Eat Drink KL: March 2020

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Stay-Home Cooking #4: Red, White & Green Lasagna by Sassy Chef LS

Our latest home recipe comes from Sassy Chef LS, who has cooked and catered in KL, Bangkok and Berlin in the past decade. This Red, Green & White Lasagna pays tribute to her time in London and love for Italian cuisine.

Sassy Chef LS: 

This recipe was hugely inspired by Gennaro Contaldo, considered one of the Godfathers of Italian cooking in the UK. I love the way he makes his food; it's always very easy and comforting. I love Italian food so much, I used to survive eating pesto pasta for a whole week while living in London. 

One dish that took many attempts to perfect was the classic lasagna. I always had trouble making lasagna because I always doubted the packaging instructions saying to just assemble the pasta without boiling. You can use those thick pasta sheets, but if you are doubtful like me, you have an extra step of precooking the sheets before assembling. 

I learned through watching Gennaro's recipe that if you use egg pasta and layer it with sauces that are more liquidy (even without all the extra cheeses you can dump in), your lasagna turns out to be this beautiful melt-in-your-mouth affair and you probably could finish an entire tray in a sitting. 

I like adding a bit of pesto in my lasagna; it helps cut through the heavier flavour of the white sauce and the acidity of the tomatoes. The idea of this lasagna is to really use the ingredients you have in your fridge and to reduce waste, so you can use anything you want in the red sauce as a substitute to the mince. Get creative!

You'll need:
An oven
8"cake tray / loaf tin
Foil to cover the tray
Whisk
Large pot

Recipe:

Red sauce: (40mins - including prep and cooking time)
1 x onion (roughly chopped)
250g of mince (can be any - I used lamb)
2 large portobello mushrooms (sliced)
1 x tin of tomato (I used Pelati tomatoes)
Handful of basil
Salt and pepper to season
2 tbsp of oil
2 tbsp of white wine (optional, can be replaced with stock)

To make the red sauce:
1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Brown the mince and mushrooms together, for a few minutes. You will see the water being released from the mince and mushroom. This water needs to evaporate until you have the mixture cooking in its fat.
2. Add the onions to sweat in the released fat for one to two mins. Add the white wine or stock to deglaze, and then add the canned tomato.
3. Fill up half the can with water and pour into the sauce. Season with salt and pepper. Throw in the handful of basil.
4. Cover and let it cook for 20 mins until it's thick but somewhat runny.

Tip: Check the water level every 10-15 mins. Add water if it's drying up too fast. The idea of the sauce is it should be a bit runny. You will know the sauce is done when you see puddles of oil gathering on top of it. If you thicken the sauce, it works really well as pasta ragu and keeps well frozen for a couple of weeks.

White sauce: (20 mins - including prep and cooking time)
50g butter
2tbsp flour
750ml milk
Handful of grated cheese (can be cheddar, parmesan, padano - it is meant to thicken and give saltiness to the sauce. I used cheddar)
A pinch of nutmeg
1 tsp of pepper

1. Melt butter in the same (cleaned!) saucepan, let butter melt on low heat.
2. Add the flour, whisk together with the butter until they are melded together.
3. Slowly add in the milk, whisk as you go. Keep adding milk till done.
4. Add nutmeg and pepper. Keep whisking and watch for its consistency.
5. As the sauce thickens, add the grated cheese so it thickens up enough to form ribbons when the whisk is held up.

Tip: Always keep whisking slowly on low fire - should take 5 to 10 mins. Again, the sauce needs to be a little runny; over-whisking can cause a very thick sauce.


For lasagna assembling: (1hr - including prep, cooking time and setting time)
Premade basil pesto  (bottled pesto is great, I used DeCecco or Sacla)
One box of lasagna sheets - egg pasta sheets.
Grated cheese
Red sauce
White sauce

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius
2. To assemble, prepare a loaf tin / 8" cake tray by first adding a ladle of white sauce on the bottom - this helps the pasta sheet stick and not slip while you assemble.
3. Lay a pasta sheet, ladle over white sauce, drop teaspoons of pesto all over. Lay another sheet of pasta, pour a ladle of the red sauce and layer with pasta. Repeat the white layer with pesto and alternate with red sauce till you finish layering in the tin. You should finish with white and red sauce covering the top.
4. Cover the top of the lasagna with the grated cheese and cover tightly with with tin foil.
5. Bake for 30 mins. After 30 mins, take out of the oven, remove the foil and let the top brown for another 10 mins.
6. Let the lasagna set for 10 mins or so, so it will firm up a little more before you can serve it.

Tip: You can assemble the lasagna into smaller individual portions  (in ceramic bowls) and freeze it for later use; it keeps well frozen for up to 2 weeks. Or you can always freeze the cooked lasagna and reheat it in the microwave or oven before serving.  


Sunday, March 29, 2020

Stay-Home Cooking #3: Slow-Braised Pork Belly Ragu Pasta by Chef Suren Krishnan

Our latest home recipe comes from one of our favourite local chefs, Suren Krishnan, who owns Section 17's Tipsy Boar and has been a consultant chef for respected restaurants. Suren cooks wonderfully with both his head and heart, with pork as his popular ingredient - his Slow-Braised Pork Belly Ragu Pasta is sure to hog the spotlight for a scrumptious household dinner!

Note: Tipsy Boar is one of  over 50 venues in our Faith For The Future project - support your favourite restaurants by buying a cash voucher to use for a future visit, and earn a 10% discount off your bill. Get your voucher at eatdrinkkl.com/faith

Slow-Braised Pork Belly Ragu with Tagliatelle (around 6 servings)

INGREDIENTS
Olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 kg pork belly skinless (Cut pork into cubes; small cubes cook faster and bigger cubes takes longer to get tender. I like mine around 1.5cm x 1.5cm. If you don’t feel like having pork, you can change the meat to any meat you fancy. The only difference is cooking times may vary from meat to meat)
100 grams onion, minced (I prefer red, but this works with red or yellow onions)
100 grams medium carrot, diced small
1 stalk celery, diced small
3 stalks of sweet basil (leaves and stem together - buy a packet; it’s usually 100 grams a packet; we will make basil oil with any basil we don’t use for the sauce and garnish)
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
900 grams (about 2 small cans) peeled plum tomatoes with juices (crush the tomatoes with your hands and also keep the juices)
700 ml low-salt chicken or pork stock (if you can make this from scratch with chicken or pork bones; if not, an off-the-shelf stock is also good)

For Finishing
Fine-julienne basil (stack about 5 basil leaves together and roll like a cigar; start slicing thinly from one end)
Parmesan cheese (get a small block of parmesan if you have a box or micro grater at home; if not, powdered parmesan will work for a home meal)
Basil oil (blend remaining basil with olive oil and salt, and set aside in a small bottle; you can keep extra in the fridge and use it in a salad or as topping for other dishes - it’s great on pizza!)

RECIPE PREPARATION

Heat 2 Tbsp oil in a large heavy pot over medium-high heat until oil is hot but not smoking. Add half the pork and season with salt and pepper. Cook, turning occasionally, until brown all over, for about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer pork to a tray. Repeat with 2 more Tbsp oil, remaining pork, and salt and pepper. Cook pork, breaking up clumps with a wooden spoon, until nicely browned, 3–4 minutes. Transfer to a tray.

Add remaining 2 Tbsp oil to same pot; reduce heat to medium-low. Add onion, carrot and celery; season with salt and pepper. Cook vegetables, stirring frequently, until softened but not browned, 8–10 minutes. Add garlic, basil and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Add tomato paste to pot and cook, stirring constantly, until deep red and caramelised, about 3 minutes. Add browned pork with any accumulated juices; stir to evenly incorporate. Add crushed tomatoes with juices; simmer until reduced and sauce is thickened, 5–7 minutes. Stir in broth and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat to low, cover pot, and simmer, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon to break up pork pieces, until meat is tender and sauce is reduced by half; normally it takes around 1 ½ hours to 2 hours but may vary according to choice of meat used and amount of heat applied. When in doubt, trust your taste buds and your instinct; uncover pot if needed during last half hour for juices to reduce. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Time to finish
500gram Tagliatelle pasta (cook pasta according to packet instructions for a more al dente mouthfeel; if you are not a fan of that, cook it an extra 2 minutes more than instructed. Remember to always add salt to the pasta water before adding the pasta)
Drain pasta but reserve some of the pasta water. Add pasta into the simmering meat sauce. Stir well. If sauce is too thick for your liking, you can thin it out a little by adding some of the pasta water. Grate some parmesan cheese on the sauce and check again for seasoning. Add if needed.

Plate your pasta with more parmesan cheese on top, sprinkled with julienne basil and drizzled with basil oil.

Chef tip, do ahead: Rag├╣ can be made 3 days ahead. Let cool slightly, then refrigerate uncovered until cold. Cover and keep chilled. Alternatively, freeze for up to 4 months.


Saturday, March 28, 2020

Nam Heong: Message To Malaysians


Check out the timely reminder in this video below produced by Nam Heong:



Here's Nam Heong's full message:

"Dear frontliners,

On behalf of a grateful nation, we thank you. You have put the greater good ahead of all else, which includes your own safety and well-being. We want you to know that the whole country is behind you, supporting you. This all will eventually pass, and you will be the reason why.

To our fellow Malaysians, we hope this video further urges you to stand united and offer your full support towards helping the country fight COVID-19. Do your part and stay home. The fate of the country is in our hands."

This post was brought to you by Nam Heong.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

EDKL Faith For The Future Cash Vouchers: In Support Of Malaysian Restaurants

The Faith For The Future project seeks to support Malaysian restaurants, cafes and bars with an immediate cash infusion to help fund the current cost of their staff salaries, rent and other expenses.

This financial lifeline might enable them to continue paying their employees and endure the coming weeks, so that they can welcome us, our families and friends again in a happier time, hopefully soon.

Purchase a cash voucher at eatdrinkkl.com/faith that you can redeem for dining in, within four months after your purchase.

It's a simple purchase that'll take one to two minutes - no sign-up or log-in required. You'll select the restaurant where you plan to redeem your voucher. The RM25, RM50 and RM100 vouchers will be emailed immediately to you.

The restaurant will receive your payment within three working days of your purchase.

As a token of appreciation, you’ll enjoy 10 percent off your total bill in one receipt when you redeem your voucher. For example, if you purchase a RM50 voucher and your bill is RM60, you'll only pay RM4 at the restaurant (RM60 - RM6 discount - RM50 voucher).

The maximum discount receivable is capped at the value of your voucher. For example, if you buy a RM50 voucher, the maximum total discount off your bill is RM50.

Full disclosure for transparency: Eat Drink KL receives a RM3 fee from the restaurant for each purchase, mainly to cover our technology, banking and administrative costs.

We're launching with nearly 50 homegrown venues - everything from ayam goreng kunyit in the city centre to teppanyaki and kakigori in the suburbs; nasi lemak in Shah Alam to Chef Wan's classics in The LINC KL; sourdough toasts in Damansara Jaya to burgers in Damansara Heights; Japanese binchotan barbecues in Taman Desa to Texas BBQ in Hartamas; Thai in PJ to Taiwanese in Subang to Japanese near KLCC; French fare in TTDI to Italian in Ampang; Kerala cuisine, vegetarian cooking and honest-to-Goodness cakes in Bangsar; coffee spanning Melawati to Ara Damansara; ice cream and tea-inspired cuisine in Chinatown; cocktails in Damansara Kim; plus locations from Kajang to Klang, and a modern Malaysian cafe in Kota Kinabalu, with more to come.

Purchase your voucher: eatdrinkkl.com/faith

List of venues: eatdrinkkl.com/posts/featured/faithlist

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Stay-Home Cooking #2: Grilled Fish with Homemade Sambal by Cooking Ah Pa

What's for dinner? KL's Cooking Ah Pa might be whipping up one of his latest recipes, Grilled Fish with Homemade Sambal. Here, he shares with us how to spice up your next meal for the family.

In his video on his YouTube channel, Cooking Ah Pa splits the cooking into two segments: making the sambal and cooking the fish. For the sambal, you'll need these ingredients:
Bowl of dried chilli, soaked until it's soft
1tbsp of asam paste
1tbsp of turmeric powder
1tbsp of belacan powder (made by pan-frying a block of belacan with no oil, dry-roasting until it becomes a powder, then refrigerate)
Rehydrated dried shrimp (soaked until it's softened)
Fresh chilllies
2cm of blue ginger
2cm of old ginger
4 cloves of garlic
4 cloves of shallots
Salt
Sugar
Light soya sauce
And of course, have a fish ready!

Put all of the plate's ingredients into a blender, spreading them out evenly, finishing with the turmeric powder and the asam paste.

Ah Pa prefers putting oil in place of water before hitting the blend button, because it will take less time to saute the belacan later. The oil might seem excessive, but the amount of oil used later on in the wok can be reduced to make up for it.

Now, it's time to grill the fish, Ah Pa is cooking ikan senangin (threadfin) that's been butterfly-cut and marinated with a bit of salt. While the recipe calls for using an oven, he makes sure to remind us that it is A-OK to pan-fry the fish.

To prepare, preheat the oven for at least 10 minutes from 230 to 250 °C. Put aluminium foil on the oven tray, with the shiny side facing up and a thin layer of oil on top. Then put the skinned fish facing down, pushing the fish around to soak up the oil before setting it down in the middle. Top it off with a bit more oil.

Now put it in the oven for between 15 to 20 minutes, his estimate for a 500g fish. Larger fish might take more time.

Time to work on the paste again. Put a lot of oil into the wok and add in the sambal you made earlier on medium heat. Patiently stir-fry the sambal so that it doesn't burn at the bottom, and add in as much oil as you need to make it easier. Keep at it for a few minutes until the colour deepens, then season it with a pinch of salt and sugar.

Continue stir-frying, then add some light soya sauce, and continue to saute for a couple more minutes, until the sugar caramelises and the colour gets darker. Water can also be added to dilute the sambal and make it wetter.

All that's left is to wait for the fish to cook, take it out, let it rest, and then top it off with the sambal you've painstakingly made. Teach a man to cook a fish and you'll hopefully feed him for many delicious dinners to come!

Cooking Ah Pa's original video can be viewed by clicking here. If you enjoy his cooking, please subscribe to Cooking Ah Pa on YouTube to keep up to date with all of his recipes!

Many thanks to Cooking Ah Pa for agreeing to share this recipe with EDKL readers.

Cooking Ah Pa

Saturday, March 21, 2020

LAVAA RestoBar, Petaling Jaya

If you're living in PJ, LAVAA RestoBar remains available for takeaways throughout this month. Place your order at www.lavaa.my and you can choose a time to pick up your food.

For an eruption of tasty twists in everything from Nashville hot chicken to Nyonya laksa, LAVAA scores a solid eight on the volcanic flavour scale. Tucked on a leafy corner of Section 17, this new family-friendly space is perfect for porky pleasures, fiery fare and creative cocktails.

LAVAA's food menu was crafted by consulting chef Suren Krishnan (the chef-owner of Tipsy Boar, also in Section 17); we've followed his trail for most of the past decade, enjoying how he sprinkles a distinctive sense of playful imagination in his crowd-rousing creations.

You can consistently expect the unexpected in Suren's work - his Pork Belly Pakora (RM15.80) could be the latest bar-snack smash, a moreishly meaty take on the popular onion fritter, with tender pork belly snarled within crisply deep-fried gram flour batter. Paired with a sweetish-rich chilly jam, this pakora will probably be polished clean within minutes of reaching your table.

Starters here will certainly rev up the appetite, though the Cheese-Baked Salted Egg With Meatballs (RM13.80) is not for the calorie-watchers - it's every ounce as indulgent as it sounds, with fleshily textured pork meatballs submerged in the creamiest, most decadently savoury sauce, for the guiltiest temptation possible.

The Nashville Fried Chicken Poppers (RM11.80) also makes for hot stuff - you can actually build an entire meal at LAVAA consisting purely of appetisers like luncheon meat fries with garlic chilli mayo, Scotch eggs with mustard mayo, deep-fried calamari with bunga kantan tartar, and potato bhaji with a mint coriander yogurt dip.

If you relish reinterpretations of local favourites, LAVAA's got you fully covered. We'd return for the Nasi Ulam Goreng Haram, a soon-to-be-introduced dish that's aromatically tossed with torch ginger flower, water celery and coriander leaves, laced with bacon and lopped with a fried egg for a dose of devilishly delicious sin.

Nyonya Laksa hogs the spotlight too, with crunchy slices of roasted pork belly bobbing beside a tiger prawn in Malacca's unmistakably fragrant speciality (RM13.80), while Mee Goreng Mamak also secures the swine-and-dine treatment with a bevy of pork meatballs to make this boaring, not boring (RM15.80).

On the Western front, LAVAA's repertoire spans pastas to pizzas, grilled platters to burgers. The Spicy Prawn Aglio Olio is gorgeously garlicky with lovely notes of olive oil, with a seasoning that's beautifully briny with dried prawn shells, complementing the large crustaceans that crown this spaghetti (RM17.80). Coming later this month on the menu is the Mutton Varuval Pasta, robustly spiced with plenty of meat in each mouthful.

Speaking of meat, LAVAA's most carnivorous concoction might be the grilled U.S. pork spare ribs, braised for eight hours to ensure it won't be too tough, glazed in a punchy Connor's stout porter sauce that's sweetened with tomatoes and molasses. At RM36.80, it's the priciest platter on LAVAA's menu, underscoring the affordability of this restaurant, where most main courses cost well below RM20.

Bargain-hunters will also be happy with the cocktail selection, which showcases exclusive signatures that can be ordered individually (RM15.80-RM18.80 each) or at RM50 for three glasses. It's a worthwhile deal for cocktails with intriguing Malaysian-inspired names like Pandan Muka, Mak Cik's Special, and Nenek Kebayan.

We couldn't resist a trio of these - the Teh O Haram (Earl Grey-infused vodka with house-made pandan syrup and lime juice), Kaya Raya (rich with kaya and santan to bolster the blend of dark rum and Malibu), and Singapura Dilanggar Todak (an acquired taste, with seaweed-infused gin wreaking cocktail chaos with purple vegetable juice, Campari, Martini Rosso and elderflower syrup).

All in all, LAVAA looks to be a cool addition to PJ's casual dining-and-drinking landscape - many thanks to the friendly team here for having us.

LAVAA RestoBar
5, Ground Floor, Jalan 17/56, Seksyen 17, 46400 Petaling Jaya, Selangor. Daily, 4pm-1am. Tel: 03-7931 5446

This post first appeared on eatdrinkkl.com

Thursday, March 19, 2020

EDKL: Calling Malaysian Restaurant Owners

In support of Malaysian restaurants hoping to ease their financial burden, Eat Drink KL is launching a special initiative next week. If you run a restaurant, cafe or bar, and you want to know more about the Faith For The Future project, please email seanyoong@eatdrinkkl.com

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Stay-Home Cooking #1: Claypot Chicken Rice by Cooking Ah Pa


Social distancing is in effect, but we're not going to be too distant from your screens: For the next several days, Eat Drink KL will be sharing recipes from Malaysian home cooks that you can prepare in the comfort of your own kitchen.

Our first recipe comes from Taman Desa's very popular Cooking Ah Pa, who publishes multiple videos each week. Today, we'll look at his method of cooking claypot chicken rice with a "zero- failure method," relying on the equipment you might already own.

You'll need a wok, a cast-iron pot, and the following ingredients:

Precooked 2 cups of steamed white rice
Chicken cut into small pieces (marinade with Shaoxing wine and light soya sauce)
Sliced shiitake mushrooms
Ginger (Ah Pa prefers Bentong ginger, but any ginger will do)
Chinese sausage
2 tablespoon of chopped garlic
Salt
Sugar
Black pepper
Optional: Salted fish (mui hiong)
Optional: Egg

Cooking Ah Pa prefers steamed rice as he cooks for a small family, so he steams one cupful. For this video, he has cooked it separately.

Pour some oil and pan-fry the Chinese sausage for a minute or two in the wok, until it turns colour with a slight char. Remove when done.

Now use the same wok, put in some oil and saute the ginger. Then add in shiitake mushrooms. When in contact with hot oil, its strong flavour will be released. Once you can smell the fragrance, add in garlic, then add in marinated chicken.

After awhile, turn down the flame to add in:
1 to 2 tbsp of oyster sauce
2 tbsp of light soya sauce
1 bottle cap's worth of Shaoxing wine
2 tbsp of dark soya sauce for a nice caramelised colour

Then turn the heat back up and continue mixing. It should be a good, deep brown at this point, though colour is dependent on what soya sauce you use.

After a short while, add in hot water or the water you used to soak the shiitake mushrooms, and stir until it's boiling.

After it cooks for a short, turn the fire to medium low and close the pan. Leave it for about 10 minutes to simmer. At this point, all the ingredients should be fully cooked and will be swimming in broth. Add some final seasoning with pinches of salt, sugar and black pepper, and stir. The chicken is finished!

Now you should have the cooked chicken, Chinese sausage, steamed rice, and if you want, salted fish.

Open the ceramic pot, add in a thin layer of oil at the bottom and spread it out. Add the steamed rice and spread it out evenly through the pot.

Next, put in the chicken, then add in the Chinese sausage on one side. After that, mix in the gravy and add a bit of white pepper.

 If you want them, here's where you add salted fish and an egg yolk.

Cover the pot, and put it under medium fire to sizzle for about a minute, to create that hardy crust under the bottom, like how it would be served in a claypot.

And with that, it's done! Serve the meal and enjoy.

The original full video can be found HERE. If you enjoy his cooking, please subscribe to Cooking Ah Pa on YouTube to keep up to date with all of his recipes!

Many thanks to Cooking Ah Pa for agreeing to share this video with us!

Cooking Ah Pa: YouTube | Facebook