Thursday, September 11, 2014

Sights and Eats: Langkawi day 4

We  woke up at the sound of leaves rustling, branches shaking , some distant chirping and screeching . Having a hotel  at the edge of a forest, it is not surprising to get curious visitors peeking through your bedroom window. We went out to the balcony and was greeted by the sights of cute furry and big beaked creatures. What a nice way to start a day!

Breakfast was delicious. We bought some excellent pastries  at The Loaf bakery and Bistro   at the Tegala Marina. Their pastries are as good as what I  can get from  local patisseries in France! Thumbs up!

Not really knowing where to go, FF and I decided to visit The Underwater Worlds. Although it's smallish compared to some water parks we've been to,  it is well maintained and clean. The animals seem to be well kept and  looking well fed.

Lunch was at The Loaf Bakery and Restaurant again, this time , inside Cenang mall. 
FF enjoyed Ayam Percik, top left, which is actually braised chicken. I had  Malaysian Laksa which tasted strongly of belikan and is quite tangy and too hot for my liking .  It was good nevertheless. Dessert was again, a basket of  excellent pasties. 

Din pick us up back in the hotel later that afternoon for another island adventure.

We went to Kilim Karst Geoforest Park. Took a boat tour and saw rich mangrove forest, fantastic sceneries with towering limestone cliffs draped with lush vegetation.  For 200 ringgits, we have a boat to ourselves. Our boat captain and tour guide has a boyish grin and well- gelled  ,spiky hair .  He looks too young to be legally driving anything  and seems to be in a hurry. He oddly reminds me of Astro Boy. But then being small and Asian, it could be deceiving. I remember my favourite waiter in Bali looks 15 but is actually 21! Anyway, We were zooming from one spot to there other so fast, my hair got all frizzled, it could put Michael Jackson in the 80s to shame. If you enjoy fast ride and deep waters, this is for you. If not, hold on to your life vests!

First stop. A bat cave.  It's  humid, smells  like my breath in the morning and so dark  you need a torch not to tip over and fall face down at any stalagmite. Well, what do ya know? Torch at the entrance is available for few ringgits. Tse hee!

 Mangrove trees are abundant everywhere. Keep your eyes peeled, you might see something that might interest you, looking back and slathering among the branchessssss.

 Next stop was a man made fish farm. We spent 15 minutes stressing sea creatures in their murky and unnatural habitat.  On the picture, the young caretaker instructed FF how to efficiently shove one's fist into  a stingray's maw. Only to prove the fisted fish doesn't have sharp teeth. Why would somebody do that? I honestly don't know. After a short stint of animal harassment which could send PETA to frenzy,  Astro Boy took us for another hair raising ride. 

We were at a lagoon. The sound of the roaring pump boat attracts the eagle. Astro Boy toss something greenish and gelatinous into the water. ''What's that? '', I asked. ''Chicken skin!'', he said as more and more aviators  came, swiping calcium-less , free meals off the water. '' Ok, but what do they usually eat? , me being nosy and annoying. ''Chicken skin!'', Astro Boy replied with all the conviction in the world .Apparently,  eagles in Langkawi  unlike other eagles that I know don't like  proteins. I sigh and ask no more.

Astro boy shoots off again and took us  to  Andaman sea. Once in a while, he points out certain rock formation or islet and mumbles nouns such as '' Shoes', ''Hat'' etc but don't give any further explanation ,  leaving me more confused than enlightened.  Sight was pretty good, despite the bumpy ride. The entire tour lasted more than an hour. Tours vary, some will take way further and could last 4 hours or even half a day.

Although the mangrove tour was pretty interesting, I was quite happy to be on dry land. Din took us to Tanjung Rhu at my request. It is famous for its beaches, said to be one of the best in Langkawi. Sunset is also spectacular in this,  I've heard.

 It certainly was!

 The sand however, was not. It was not white or as fine as I expected it. 

There are numerous sandbars in the area. FF pretend he's Jesus and tried to walk on waters. 

 I asked Din  to drive us to ''Black sand beach'' written on my tourist map . Biggest disappointment of the day. There's nothing special about the place and it certainly not a black sanded beach.

Small patches of dark sand which looks more like oil spills spread across the shore. Only local folklore  says otherwise.  Place is deserted except of few misinformed tourist like us , who  search for the black sanded beach and left just as soon as they realised they're being  duped.

We stopped by Tegala Marina for some dinner before calling it a day.

We sat at the Italo- Mediterranean restaurant and bar, facing the harbour. We shared some crispy calamaris with remoulade sauce.

I had some paper thin pizza with sardine, which was delicious and light. I could eat two of these.

FF is missing some good steak so he ordered one. Cooked medium, it did not blow him away but it was good enough and quite filling. One thing I've noticed though, they make pretty good fries in Langkawi.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Pork and green beans stir fry

We have a rather abundant harvest of green beans from the garden. I have been cooking it in many different ways but so far, this recipe has been one of my and FF's favourites. Simple and quick dishes is my trademark and this is just one of those. Delicious home cooked meals don't have to be complicated.

You need:

500 g of pork, preferably pork shoulder, cut into strips
Marinade: 3 tbsp light soy sauce, white pepper,  2 corn starch , 1 thumb sized grated ginger
1/2 cup rice wine

1 kilo of beans, snap off stem ends, cut into 1-2 inches long pieces,  blanched ( boil salt water, cook beans in it for about 3 minutes, take out and submerge beans in ice cold water before transferring into a colander. Do it in batches if necessary )
3 cloves of garlic, mashed
1 medium size onion, diced
Sauce: 3 tbsp Lee Kum Kee Black Bean Garlic Sauce)
 2 tbsp oyster sauce,  2 tbsp light  soy sauce, 3 tbsp white sugar, 1/2 cup water and 2 tbsp cornstarch 
Oil for sautéing
salt and pepper to taste

Here's how to do it. 

1. Marinate port strips in soy sauce, white pepper, grated ginger and corn starch . Cover and refrigerate for about 20-30 minutes. Heat oil in a pan/wok.  Brown meat. Take out from the wok .

2. Add a bit of oil into the wok. Sauté garlic and onion. Add in blanched beans . Stir fry under high heat. Add in browned pork and pour rice wine.  Toss until well combined and until wine evaporates. 

3. Prepare sauce. Mix together water, black beans, oyster sauce , soy sauce, sugar and corn starch. Add mixture into the the wok. Test taste. Season with salt and pepper as needed. 

Serve pipping hot.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Mango Float in a Jar

This particular dessert was a hit on my birthday celebration at home. It was one of the dishes that disappeared almost instantly as it hits the buffet table. I loved it so much , I made again last week, this time for some girlfriends . Just as I expected, they too , have been bugging me for the recipe since then. Fortunately  making this is quick and easy . I wish all desserts are like this.

This recipe makes about 6 dessert jars. You can use empty marmalade jars as well. If you don't have any of those available, a big glass bowl will do.

You need:

1 big or 2 medium ripe mangoes.
1 cup mango pulp
lady finger biscuits
200 ml cream
2 tbsp. vanilla sugar
250 g mascarpone cream  ( alternative : Quark or cream cheese)

Here's how to do it:

Peel mangoes and dice. Mix together with mango pulp . Cover  and refrigerate.

Whip cream and vanilla sugar together until soft peak forms. Beat in mascarpone or quark/cream cheese until  mass  holds its shape.

Pipe whipped cream and mascarpose mixture into the jar or dessert glass.

Carefully arrange  lady finger biscuits over it. Break it into smaller pieces if needed.

 Spoon diced mango mixture on top. Repeat the layers until all ingredients are used up.

It will end looking quite pretty like this!

And just as beautiful on a dessert bowl. Your choice!
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