Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Lechon Manok with Gravy

I was feeling a bit under the weather lately . So instead letting myself  sucked deeply into the dark unknown abyss ( coughs female hormones) , I went out to smell the flower ( coughs shopping)  , then march back home and treat  myself  and FF with something festive and delicious. After all , nothing perks me up from melancholy better than food. I decided to make Lechon Manok or Roasted chicken.

Preparation and waiting time is a pain, but its worth the wait.

The sight...The smell.. and the taste...Hmmm instant remedy!


1 whole chicken 
3 stalks of lemongrass
1 stalk of spring onion
2 shallots. cut into half
4 cloves garlic , smashed
1 lime, cut into half

Chicken rub:
50 g butter, softened
5 cloves of garlic,  finely minced
lime rind of 2 limes
salt and pepper
1 tsp. anise powder

Basting concoction:
4 tbsp. coconut oil
1 tsp. tamarind pulp
a dash of soy sauce & fish sauce
1/2 tsp. Annato powder
coarse salt


Mix chicken rub ingredients together until well combined. Set aside.

Clean the bird and pat it dry using a paper towel.  Carefully loosed up the skin around the chicken without tearing it. We're going to bury some treasure into its nooks and crannies . Season the cavity  of chicken generously with salt and pepper.

 Spoon a tablespoon or two of chicken into the chicken cavity.

 Rub mixture under and on to the skin. It makes your bird extra tasty!

 Prepare filling . Smash lemongrass to release the flavor and aroma.

 Stuff chicken with  it. Tie chicken leg with a twine to hold the filling together and to keep your bird looking pretty. Transfer bird to a clean plate, cover with cling foil and refrigerate for at least 24 hours.

On the cooking day, mix basting sauce ingredients together.

Preheat oven to 240 °C. Place chicken on a wire rack, breast down. I wrapped the wing tips with aluminium foil to prevent it from burning. Put a baking dish under the bird to catch all that delicious dripping. You need it for you gravy. Lover over temp. to 200°c. Bake chicken for 20 mins.

Brush chicken with basting sauce and continue to bake for 20 more minutes.

Flip the bird and brush with basting sauce. Continue baking for another 30 minutes or more ( depending on the size of you bird). To test, prick thick with the tip of your knife, if the juice that comes out is clear, then it's done. Once cooked, cover chicken with aluminium foil and let it rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Remember that dripping you saved ? Spoon out excess oil and dump everything else in a sauce pan. Add 1 tbsp of flour. Add in remaining basting sauce mixture. Add a cup of warm water. Let it simmer until thickens. Test taste, season with salt and pepper if needed. Serve with the bird.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Laksa, my way.

I had my very first bowl of Laksa while in Langkawi 2 years ago. I liked it so much, I decided to try few more at  the hawkers centers of  KL on the same year. It was both a surprise and a pleasure to discover that there are many version of this  tasty noodle soup.  Even  the neighbouring Singaporeans  have their own interpretation of this versatile dish.  There are creamy laksas, coconut-ey, spicy , sour,  meaty or  shrimpy  and I can not make up my mind which among the countless bowls of laksa tasted the best . Difficult indeed for each is just as good as the other.


It's FF's birthday and I purposely took a day off. Asked him what he wants to eat on his birthday. ''Surprise me!'', is all that he says. I was contemplating on cooking his old time favourites , but it would hardly be a surprise then. It has to be something he haven't had at home, something that would remind me of the good times and good sunny places. I make laksa from scratch . Making it require a bit of work but it was fun. 

The Laksa turned out delicious and  hearty with just enough spiciness to tickle the palate. Perfect for today's cold and icy day. A slice of his favourite still-warm cake Apple crumble and I got myself one happy camper. Happy birthday to my number one fan, FF!

Laksa ala Emily.
Serves 4

Laksa Paste:
3 pcs. dried chillie
1 tbsp. dried shrimp
1 tbsp. toasted belacan 
2 cloves of garlic
2 shallots
1 thumb size ginger
1 thumb size galangal
1 thumb-size turmeric 
( I used 1 tbsp. powdered since I can't find fresh one)
2 stalks lemongrass
juice of 1 lime
3 kaffir leaves
1 tsp. coriander leaves paste 
( you can take  a handful of chopped fresh coriander)

400-450  g chicken 
( I used a whole poussin, or young chicken)
150 g shrimps
fishballs 3- 4 pcs/ person ( optional)
1/3 cup coconut oil
800 ml chicken stock
400 ml coconut milk
2 stalks lemongrass
3 kaffir  lime leaves
1-2 tbsp. palm sugar
1 tbsp. fish sauce
1 tbsp. lime juice
a handful of bean sprout
pork crackling ( optional
your choice of noodle, about 50-75 g/person
egg, 1/ person


Soak dried shrimp in 1/4 cup water and let it stand for 20 minutes. Drain. Prepare laksa paste ingredients by chopping them roughly.

Using a food processor or a mortal and pestle, grind ingredients together until it turns into a paste.Do not hesitate to use the belacan. This toasted shrimp paste might smell like Satan's ass but it's essential to the recipe and will actually turn the whole dish heavenly aromatic once cooked.

 Prepare other ingredients .Wash and clean poussin, you can use chicken leg, thigh or breast instead. Cut into serving pieces.

Bring chicken stock into a boil. Add chicken pieces. Let it simmer for 15-20 minutes or until chicken is cooked but to overly so. Nobody wants dry and overcooked birds. Take chicken piece out from the pot and set aside.

Add fish balls into the stock. Cook for 3-5 minutes. Take out and set aside.

Cook shrimps until it turns pink. Also about 3-5 minutes.  Fish out and set aside.

 Heat coconut oil in a wok or pot. Dump the laksa paste into it.

  Cook for 7 minutes of until oil separates. The smell coming from the work is just divine.

Pour the hot stock into the wok/pot. Bring to a boil.

Put the chicken pieces back. Add lemongrass, smash it with the back of the kind first to release its aroma. Then the lime leaves. 

Add the coconut milk. Season the laksa with fish sauce, lime juice, palm sugar, salt and pepper. Keep on testing until it suits your taste.   In many recipes,   fried tofu could be added, but since it's not available in my place, I just omit it. 

Now for the fun part. Assemble the laksa. First cook noodle of your choice according to the package's intruction. I used both rice and egg noodle. Divide into individual serving bowl. I used 50 g of egg noodle on each bowl and 20 g rice noodle. The whole dish can make up to 4-5 large bowls.

 Put chicken over the noodles. 

 Arrange shrimps and fish balls over it. 

Carefully ladle laksa soup unto the bowl. I like my laksa to be not overly soupy but it's a personal preference.


 Add the rest of the toppings like bean spouts,  pork crackling , chopped greens like coriander or spring onion and chopped red chilis if you like it really spicy. If you want soft boil eggs then bring a pot of water into a boil. Add the eggs and let it simmer gently for 6 minutes.  Take eggs out from the hot water and submerge in cold water for 2 minutes. Then once cool enough to handle, carefully peel eggs. Waa lah! You will have soft , runny egg yolks.

Enjoy your laksa!

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

GInataang Bilo Bilo

I made Guitaang Halo Halo for a group of Filipina friends last November. It was essentially a no-brainer when  they claim how good it was. After all, we Pinoy love our own.

I made another batch of guinataang bilo bilo and brought it to work. I served it during our break to my German colleagues. They were raving how good it was and were asking me for the recipe. Every single one of them.

Then, I met up with my friends  from Poland, Russia and Croatia for  an early Christmas dinner and brought yet again, another steaming hot bowl of this dessert. They too, fall for it. The  appreciative and genuine reactions of these ladies,  speak volume. It proves that despite all the cultural differences we all have,  simple foods and sharing can still bring us all together.

So  this winter , keep somebody warm and cook ginataan!


1 cup  glutinous rice flour dissolve in 1/3 cup water
3 cups coconut milk
2 1/2 cups water
a pinch of salt
2 plantain / 3 saba bananas
2 medium sized sweet potatoes 
( I used purple one this time, it changes the color of the whole dish)
1/2 jar macapuno strip
1 cup ripe jackfruit ( Store bought and in syrup)
2 tbsp. sago pearl ( cook according to package's instructions)
Optional: Add as much sugar as you want.
  I find the syrup of macapuno and jackfruit sweet enough, I did not add any .


 Put glutinous rice flour in a bowl. A water 1 tbsp. at a time, mix until mass could hold itself. Form into marble sized balls. Set aside.

 Bring coconut oil and water into a gentle simmer. Add salt. 

 Peel and slice cooking banana. Add into the pot. 

 Add macapuno and jackfruit strips.

 Peel and cut sweet potatoes into wedges/cubes. Add into the pot. Cook until banana and sweet potatoes are just tender. Takes about 10 minutes.

Put glutinous rice balls ( Bilo Bilo) into the the pot then add cooked sago/tapioca Cook for 5-10 more minutes or until rice balls floats.

Ginataang Bilo Bilo

Keep the spirits high and serve Ginataan warm.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Indian Naan Bread

Why do people eat with their bare hands?  Such table practice is  not so uncommon when you look at it. It is in fact, shared by many cultures , including mine.    Foods tend to be more savory, enjoyable and palatable that way. Having to touch the food before popping it into one's grateful maw is somehow liberating. It puts away restrictions . It puts away inhibitions. There's just you and the food before you. I do have that need when occasion arises, much to the fascination of my fork and knife armed husband. When comfort zones all cave in  and when I  just simply feel like digging in. Literally speaking.Why do it?  You might ask again. Well, because  there are foods that should be eaten by bare hands. Simple.

I fell in love with Indian cuisine about 6 years ago. Felt like I've wasted few years of my life for not discovering it early enough. What's not to love anyways? Rich and flavorful stews and curries, aromatic tandooris, the tangy yet fruity chutneys,  flavourful biryanis and then there's this soft, pliable and addictive flat breads, Naan. Who needs cutlery when there's this edible utensil to scoop and soak up all that hot , delicious sauces and gravies? Naan bread makes me put down my fork and knife anytime!

I am in no means an expert when it comes to Indian cuisine and definitely am not a baker. However, for a beginner, this recipe faired better than I expected. Many thanks to the wonderful Indian moms and aunties on  Youtube who shared tricks and recipes. 
This is the  second time I made Naan. Unlike the doughy, thick and heavy yeast based version I baked before, this  version was thin, soft and pliable . Like how I wanted it to be. It's like the one I could get in many Indian restaurants. Most importantly, it tasted quite good! If you haven't baked Naan Bread before and wants to try making it at home, then  give this recipe a try!

Today's lunch. Naan bread, mango lassi and Fish Curry! I mopped the plate clean using the Naan bread. FF too....

Feeds 4 (or 3 very hungry people)

2 cups all purpose flour + extra for dusting
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 cup joghurt
1/4 cup warm water
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
1/4 cup warm water

Toppings: ( optional
1/3 cup melted butter
1 whole head of garlic, finely minced
1 handful of cilantro/coriander leaves
grated cheese

I used my old pizza stone for this recipe. The Naan puffed and was cooked in no time.

Sift flour. Put in a large mixing bowl. add in salt, sugar, and baking soda. Whisk until well combines. Add in 1 tbsp. of oil and curd/ yoghurt.  Pour warm water one tbsp. at a time until mass comes together. Clean thy hands very well and rub  it in a bit of oil. Knead dough for about 7 minutes.

Form dough into a ball. If you want to check if you knead and relaxed it to submission, poke it.

 Watch as it slowly springs back. It has to be firm yet springy. 

 Transfer in well greased bowl. Brush with the remaining oil. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let it rest for 2 hours. Imagine it's you after having a thorough massage, you simply want to lay around and relax. So don't  poke, don't peek and don't disturb it! Like a sleeping dragon with a toothache, better leave it in peace!

Once the dough rises and doubles in size , transfer in a floured surface and knead for about 3 more minutes.

  It will turn smooth and elastic then. Cut dough into equal parts, like cutting a pizza.

Roll each  dough into small balls. Cover with kitchen towel and allow to rest for 30 minutes. In the meantime, preheat oven to 230 °C. Put pizza stone in the middle of the oven.

Once oven and the pizza stone are hot, change oven setting  to ''grill'' or ''broil. Sprinkle working surface with flour. Roll naan dough into circle or oblong and as thinly as you could.

If you are making garlic naan. Spread a teaspoon of finely mince garlic on the naan . Press using the back of a spoon to bury the garlic bits.

Flip the Naan. Brush one side with water to moistened it. 

Put naan, moistened side down on the pizza stone. Bake until puffed  and slightly brown. Keep an eye on it. Take about 2-3 minutes. Do not  overbake. Naan has to be soft and pliable, not cardboard hard and dry!

 Transfer into a plate. Drizzle with softened butter or ghee.  

Garlic Naan
 Garnish with chopped coriander.

For cheese naan. Spoon a teaspoon of softened butter/ghee on unbaked naan, then sprinkle cheese. Press cheese using the palm of your hand to make it stick to the dough. Flip and moistened one side with water and bake.

Cheese Naan

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