Kampungkayell

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

Food judgement

By Allan Yap & Nigel A. Skelchy

Food is central to our lives.

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"GOOD" food

But everyday we make choices to eat certain foods. We're fortunate to be in that position really.

Questions fill our day; "where shall we go tonight to eat?" "what shall we eat?" "ooo lets be healthy tonight and eat a salad?" "No lah, can't eat that tonight lah, trying to lose weight." "Aiyo, my cholesterol too high I'm eating soup/salad for the next 3 months." "Tonight is my cheat night so I can eat anything. Let's pig out."

Sound familiar?

We make judgements about our food based on our own experiences. And food means so many things to us. It's nourishment. It's comfort. It's community. It's love. It's enjoyment. It's soothing. It's guilt. It's upliftment. And the list goes on.

We celebrate with food. We commiserate with food. We sooth with food. We commune over food. And we fill unhappiness with food. We also punctuate happiness with food.

Is it surprising that food occupies such a ginormous portion of our psyche? And is it surprising that it's also one of the sensual pleasures that perhaps gives us the most joy or the most grief? We deny ourselves then binge. We feel bad for denying ourselves and reward USING food.

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"Good" food

We look in trepidation at our expanding waistlines or lack of 6 packs (ya KL, you know who you are) and then foresee a period of desolation. Oh NO, we have to SACRIFICE food. Pull back on all that we hold dear and Good (as in yummy) and eat all that is GOOD (as in good for you). And never the twain between Good and GOOD shall meet.

For one thing, when we go down that path, we make judgements about "Good" and "Bad" food. "Good" food is usually associated with tasteless, sawdust-y, dry, and did I mention tasteless?

"Bad" food - 3 words; "deep," "fried," and "butter." Eat and be guilty.

In actual fact, it's the judgement that we put into the food that make it that way.

Can you imagine if you took that judgement and threw it away?

All food is actually possible for nourishment. It's just that on a daily basis, you wouldn't eat Foie Gras all the time. Or Kentucky Fried Chicken. Or Mcdonalds. Or keropok.

Mostly, we'd eat our 3 meals a day of vegetables, meat, and rice.

Instead of then looking at food as "evil" or "bad" what if we switched our perception to make food "EVERYDAY" food and "SOMETIMES" food? And we ask ourselves daily, "ooo, today is a day for "everyday" food. So you eat your everyday food without the side dish of judgement and your emotions stay out of it. And periodically during the week, you have your "sometimes" food. Perhaps 3 or 4 meals per week? Out of a total of 21 (7 days a week x 3 - assuming you eat 3 times a day - healthy eating should really be 5 to 6 small meals per day but that's the topic for another post)? Can you imagine?

Just that switch of perception might be sufficient to prevent the tiring emotions of guilt and everything else that accompanies emotional eating.

It's working for me.

Madam Kwan's...redux

By Allan Yap & Nigel A. Skelchy

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Madam Kwan's isn't a new restaurant.

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It's not been refurbished neither has it been taken over by new management. Daniel still works there and the decor, while contemporary, is still very current and aging really well.

I'm reminded of Coliseum every time I come in here. But it's Coliseum if it had been refurbished.

The food is honest. The prices still good and it's dishes we grew up with. Exotic local food or being different is not the point.

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Allan had Nasi Lemak with beef. You have to ask for this one. It defaults to chicken curry otherwise. And you MAY have to have a word with the manager to make it a special request.

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I had Chicken Rice. Given that I now feel 10 sizes too big for my spirit I thought it was time to be a bit more disciplined with myself. But instead of guilting myself into not eating, I try and keep it as casual as possible. More of eating habits in a later post.

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I was quite proud of myself. 1/4 cup of rice and the skin of the chicken all stripped off. And when I finished it, along with the cucumber and large shitake mushrooms, I found I was actually full.

And it was really, really yummy!

So all in all still a good value proposition.

Hearty Chicken Soup Part 2

By Allan Yap & Nigel A. Skelchy

There were some who expressed an interest in making the soup so I thought I'd list the full recipe here.

I pinched it from a cooks journal.

When skimming the fat off the stock, we prefer to leave a little bit on the surface to enhance the soup’s flavor. The soup can be prepared through the end of step 2 and refrigerated for up to 2 days or frozen for up to 3 months. Store the chicken breasts in a zipper-lock bag with the air squeezed out and the stock in an airtight container.

Ingredients

Stock
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 pound ground chicken
1 small onion , chopped medium (about 1 cup)
1 medium carrot , peeled and chopped medium (about 1/2 cup)
1 medium celery rib , chopped medium
1 quart water
2 quarts low-sodium chicken broth
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons table salt
2 bone-in, skin-on chicken breast halves (about 12 ounces each), cut in half crosswise

Soup
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 cup cold water
1 small onion , halved and sliced thin (about 1 cup)
2 medium carrots , peeled, halved lengthwise, and cut crosswise into 3/4-inch pieces (about 1 cup)
1 medium celery rib , halved lengthwise and cut crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces (about 1/2 cup)
1 medium russet potato (about 8 ounces), peeled and cut into 3/4-inch cubes (about 1 1/2 cups)
4 ounces egg noodles (about 1 cup)
4 - 6 Swiss chard leaves , ribs removed, torn into 1-inch pieces (about 2 cups) (optional)(Can use any leafy green, kai lan, choi sum, spinach; adjust cooking times to suit and cut the branches off the leaves so the leaves don't overcook)
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley leaves

Table salt and ground black pepper

Instructions

1. For the stock: Heat oil in large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add ground chicken, onion, carrot, and celery. Cook, stirring frequently, until chicken is no longer pink, 5 to 10 minutes (do not brown chicken).

2. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add water, broth, bay leaves, salt, and chicken breasts; cover and cook for 30 minutes. Remove lid, increase heat to high, and bring to boil. (If liquid is already boiling when lid is removed, remove chicken breasts immediately and continue with recipe.) Transfer chicken breasts to large plate and set aside. Continue to cook stock for 20 minutes, adjusting heat to maintain gentle boil. Strain stock through fine-mesh strainer into large pot or container, pressing on solids to extract as much liquid as possible. Allow liquid to settle about 5 minutes and skim off fat (see note).

3. For the soup: Return stock to Dutch oven set over medium-high heat. In small bowl, combine cornstarch and water until smooth slurry forms; stir into stock and bring to gentle boil. Add onion, carrots, celery, and potato and cook until potato pieces are almost tender, 10 to 15 minutes, adjusting heat as necessary to maintain gentle boil. Add egg noodles and continue to cook until all vegetables and noodles are tender, about 5 minutes longer.

4. Meanwhile, remove skin and bones from reserved cooked chicken and discard. Shred meat with fingers or 2 forks. Add shredded chicken, Swiss chard (if using), and parsley to soup and cook until heated through, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper; serve.

Hearty Chicken Soup

By Allan Yap & Nigel A. Skelchy

It's been a long time since I blogged. My apologies to all. Perhaps I should have put up a note saying why but as those who read my blog regularly, you would know that it's been a rough 2008.

Inspiration was in short supply.

As life moves on however, it's obvious that I've always loved doing this and it's been something I've missed. As my food blogger friends remind me(you know who you are, awhiffoflemongrass.com, fatboyrecipes.blogspot.com, lecoupletoy.blogspot.com, lifeforbeginners.com)So to that end, here's my first new blog with the new look.

Hearty Chicken Soup

I decided that I would blog something I made as something to come back to blogging. Sitting around feeling under the weather, I decided I wanted some comfort food for dinner. Since I was going to be at home I made some for Dad as well.

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Traditional chicken soup is made with a slow boiled stock; usually of chicken bones, water, a bouquet garni, carrots, celery, and an onion. Simmered on a low heat so bubbles hardly break the surface for about 6 to 8 hours. Having decided on this for dinner at 630pm however, I really couldn't see myself waiting till 230am before I had my stock to make the soup.

The secret is in the ground chicken meat. A lot more surface area and in 30 minutes you've got a passable stock.

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Chicken for meat. Use the stock while it's boiling to cook this chicken. Then remove and cut it up. (More on that later)

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I love the savoury taste of Bay Leaves. So that usually goes into my chicken soup. There are TWO batches of carrots, onions and celery. One for the stock. And one for the soup.

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Here's the stock being made. Note the ground chicken and the carrots, onions, celery and bay leaves were sauteed before the canned chicken stock was poured in. If you DON'T have canned chicken stock on hand. Don't panic. Use water. And add in a teaspoonful of chicken bouillon powder (or cube) for every 500 ml of liquid. I used 2.5 l for the amount of ingredients above.

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You could use cornflour as thickener or even use flour. Add more or less for the thickness you prefer. For the amount above, I used 2 Tablespoons which gave a thinner texture but unctuous enough for my needs. For greater richness, make a blond roux and use that instead. I also added potatoes in for extra heartiness.

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When the stock is done, pour it into a sieve and press using the back of a wooden spoon to squeeze out every ounce of goodness. There's a lot of sweetness in there.

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When you cut up the chicken (and/or pork) make sure it's a nice size. You want to have some texture.

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The fork is there for scale.

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Some leafy greens are good. Spinach is great, but over here I used choy sum.

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And voila, hearty chicken soup for dinner.