Food, life, and fun in my "kampung,"(village), KL (Kuala Lumpur). Did I mention "food?"

Nigella's Chilli and Melting Wok's Char Siu with Rum & Raisin Ice Cream

By Allan Yap & Nigel A. Skelchy

Ever since I got my "Nigella's Feasts" for Christmas, I've been trying odds and bods from the book. The first, a Chocolate Fruit Cake was YUMM-MEE!

I love her style of writing and I can just imagine her with her plummy accent speaking to me in the book. She writes as she speaks which is wonderful. It allows her personality and her genuine-ness to come through.

In any case, I was intrigued with the Chilli topped with cornbread recipe and have been wanting to make it for some time. That and Melting Wok's Char Siu recipe. The opportunity presented itself and I made it for the toughest customers I know. Allan's Mum and family and my family. Of the two though, Allan's family is more vocal about what they like and dislike.

Actually, Allan and I are very fortunate as we have a ready made focus group for any of our new cakes we test in our kitchen. ;-)

The other thing that we believe is that we shouldn't save something for a "celebration." Every day should be a celebration of life, love and family, and so for our Sunday night dinner we broke out the bubbly.

The bottle of Prosecco we had with dinner

It was a chance to really channel the Domestic Goddess as we also tried out her idea for Rum & Raisin ice cream and her favourite bit of bubbly, Prosecco, which is amazing value for money at around RM65 each.

Inebriated Raisins
The drowned raisins - after a day or two they will look rather the worse for wear. After a week they plump back up and the rum becomes a dark rum syrup

Enough good quality raisins to stuff an airtight bottle (an old jam jar worked wonders for me)
4 cloves (You can increase this or even use cinnamon or whatever grabs your fancy)
Dark Rum - enough to cover the raisins (Please don't use rum flavouring)
  1. Fill half the bottle with raisins and drop in the cloves
  2. Stuff the rest of the bottle with raisins
  3. Trickle in the rum until it's absolutely full
  4. Cover the lid tightly and refrigerate for at least a week
You can use this to just mix into a tub of vanilla ice cream for really boozy Rum & Raisin. It's better prepared the day before the party or event. It allows the rum to work its way into the ice cream otherwise the raisins will pop in your mouth with small, nasal clearing, shots of rum.

The Verdict

The Golden brown cheese crust on the cornbreadMy mashed up Chilli, Cornbread, sour cream and guacamole

Nigella's Chilli Con Carne recipe is everything she makes it out to be. It's subtly spiced, meaty, well balanced. I can't resist tweaking recipes and my changes were simple; I substituted 500g of minced pork for the same amount of beef that the recipe calls for. So in effect, I used 1 kg of minced beef and 500 g of minced pork. I like the sweetness that pork imparts to a meat recipe. Furthermore, I simmered for 2 hours instead of the 1 1/2 hours that the recipe called for and added a teaspoon of honey to the finished recipe. To my mind this gave it a richer finish. And being Malaysians, I felt it needed more heat than 2 tsps of dried chilli, so I added an extra tsp.
The almost neon lime green guacamole - select the blackest avocados you can find in the supermarket and make sure they have a nice bit of give in them - mine were a little underripe
The gloriously tart sour cream

It was perfect served with the guacamole and the sour cream. The tart creaminess of the sour cream and the grassy herbaceous notes of the guacamole/lime mixture proved the appropriate foil to the sweet richness of the chilli. The grated cheddar added just the right hit of saltiness and even my Mum who's not a fan of cheese, to say the least, was chowing down.

It was indeed a large pot and we bagged it up and froze the left overs. It was hearty, filling, comfort food. Just what the doctor ordered for a one pot meal with a salad.
The sliced up Char Siu

Now, the piece de resistance. The Char Siu. Can I say OMIGOD?! Sweet, subtly spiced with the warmth of the five spice and the smoky-ness of the caramelised honey and golden syrup. The Chinese wine gave it an aromatic edge. Yes, now you've got me. Sorry lah Melting Wok, being the tweaker I am, I made a few minor changes to the method and to the ingredients. I couldn't find Maltose (Mak Nga) in Bangsar Village so I substituted Golden Syrup.

Instead of frying it the entire time on the stove top, I caramelised and sealed the meat on the fire and then transferred it to a 180C oven to bake for 10 mins. Took it out, turned it and baked it again for another 15 mins.

It would have been better if I had been able to get better pork belly or Kap Sum Yoke. It would have been even more tender and the flavour would undoubtedly have been more intense had I marinated it overnight. But as usual my impetuous nature got the better of me and I just absolutely HAD to make it. So I gave it an hour to marinate and then cooked it. Even so, it was a palpable hit, as they say.

Since, it wouldn't really have gone with the Chilli, I served it as a starter for everyone to pick at.
Home made rum and raisin ice cream

The Ice Cream was boozy, creamy, and after a hot hearty dish, it was a very welcome treat. The raisins were dark little surprises as they squished between your teeth and released their potent liquid which vapourised up your nasal passages. Allan sat up with his family and chit chatted till the wee hours while I crawled upstairs had a shower and snuck into bed. There are few things more satisfying than having your loved ones enjoy what you made.


** nudge nigel with a knife. **

this is a robbery
gimme my rum and raisin now !

*hands up* i'm volunteering to be your guinea pig hehe

joery; is that a knife in your pocket or are you just happy to see me? >;-)

babe_kl; ah can...maybe do pot luck some day and we all test something! ;-)

*raise hand* I'll bring a big pot & pray to get lucky! Lucky to fill d pot (tapau), that is. =P

Ooo! I'm going to try out that rum & raising ice-cream recipe myself soon!

Yum. I am getting hungry!

And I love Nigella. She makes even the most plain boring dish sound absolutely sinful!

tummythoz;make sure the big pot is filled with your yummiest creation. ;-)

sneexe; do that! It's easy and it's certainly better than Rum and Raisin from Baskins. I used Nestle Vanilla Ice cCream

Paul; absolutely. Thing is if each dish is accompanied by the good company, there's no such thing as a boring dish! ;-) And Nigella realises this! ;-)

dont you just LOVE nigella. i watch her programs religiously. thank god for astro max. even my son loves her. (he's 7) he even asked me once if she was on holiday, since there was a time when she wasnt on TV.

and home made rum and raisin, isnt that the epitome of decadence. yum. eh, where your shop in plaza damansara ah?

oh, do you know you can sometimes get prosecco at tong woh, for about RM50 a bottle. (they sell it at RM75 per bottle, but buy two, get one free, so its RM150 for 3 bottles, and yup, its damn good value, esp if hosting champagne brunches etc)

fbb; yeah knew about Tong Woh and Prosecco...shop there all the time. But bought one bottle only lah the last time ;-) But thinking of getting a few cases and putting it aside.

Nigella's awesome. As Paul says she can make the most boring thing interesting.

Now this thing about a champagne brunch...how about doing a Champagne potluck? ;-) A bottle of prosecco and something homemade?

i don't care what you say, you're laying our a full-fledged 5 course dinner for me when i'm back at the end of may. end of discussion.

nigel, great idea. that's what i normally do, champagne potluck, (as in bring a bottle each) but i find as the host, usually need to stock up more, coz inevitably, not enough one.

you want the nigella feasts on dvd or not? when i finally get around to transferring from astro max to dvd, i can burn u a copy.

FBB, Eh, that would be great. Thanks so much lah. Much appreciated dude. Haven't had the time to watch the series except to catch glimpses of it.

Champagne brunch...ah...cases of Prosecco ;-) omigod FBB...you lush you...

Nigel :-)

what did I miss ? Just got back from Vegas hehe, ooo..more char siu, and guacamole, and cornbread ? yummyss..:))) I had guacamole with salsa and chicken tortilla wraps with grilled chicken, no pix :( Btw, the black "hass" avocados are the best for your guacamole, aren't they expensive in M'sia ? man, people in the South loves their cornbread, they use cornmeal for e'thing, including for fish batter, esp. catfish, my goddd, that cornbread, I could eat like 5 all at once, once again, e'thing looks lovely, you big teasers, stomach growling here :PP

oo..on the maltose, no sweat, in fact thx to u, u just reminded me bout corn/golden syrup, mom used tt too sometimes, how could I've forgotten..ah, thx :)

oh hey! Nestle has one of the better midrange vanilla flavours around. I like :) First I need to buy raisins.

How far did you let the ice cream melt before refreezing- any tips on how not to let it get "icy"?

Melting wok; Vegas, home of the US$1.99 all you can eat buffet. Oh Yeah, they lurves dem cornbread down south! Dem po'boys are big too. And Grits! ;-)

No worries re the Golden syrup. My Mum's recipe is slightly different. She just uses black soy, thin soy, sugar, and water and sometimes the Hsiao Shing.

God knows re the hass avocados. Only Hass I know is Tommy the tennis player (nice arms) and I think that's Haas! ;-)

Sneexe; good on ya for giving it that ol college try. Didn't let it melt too much. Just soft enough to mash the raisins into the ice cream. Leave it overnight. It felt like very firm mash potatoes.

mmm.... firm... mash... ppotatoes....

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