Nuff Nang

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Raiding My Fridge...

I raided my fridge this evening and had an impromptu dinner for three. Although not strictly a review on good eats in London, it's still a cheap (and good) eat nonetheless. I fed three at the dinner table and still have enough left over for lunch tomorrow. Best of all it only cost me GBP2.99!

In my fridge & kitchen cupboard I found:


1 bulb of garlic

1 large onion

4 birds eye chilis

3 sticks celery

3 ripe tomatoes

4-5 pcs sundried tomatoes

1 tin plum/chopped tomatoes

1/2 tube tomato puree (ketchup works almost as well)

50g parmesan

A handful of fresh basil

1/2 packet of Spaghetti

I then nipped to my friendly neighbourhood Super(market) and picked up 1kg of (in-season) Scottish rope grown mussels for GBP2.99. Bargain!!!

This dish is incredibly easy (and quick) to make - although the mussels do need debearding and cleaning. To debeard, grab a hold of the scruffy 'beards' that are attached to the inside of the shells and pull hard. Then run under cold water and wash off any dirt or grit on the shells. Remember to discard any open or broken ones unless they clam up when you tap them gently on their shells. For the novice mussel 'debeard-er' & cleaner, this should take about 15 minutes but the results are well worth it.

Cleaning aside, on the hob, this dish is done and dusted in 15-20 mins.

1. First chop up the garlic, onions, chilis. Pop them into a pot on low heat with some olive oil and a knob of butter. (I also found a wee bottle of truffle oil that my brother-in-law's brother had given me a few months back so I added a generous tablespoon to the mix). Fry gently for approx 5 minutes.

2. With the garlic, onions and chilis frying merrily away in the pot, slice the celery and sundried tomatoes. Add to the pot. (Do NOT combine Step 1 and 2 as the onions need time to melt down, the garlic to sweeten and the chili to lose its acidity).

3. Then chop up the fresh tomatoes, throw them into the pot too. Give it a good stir then chuck in the tinned chopped tomatoes. Simmer for approx 5 minutes.

4. Add tomato puree or harissa paste, or even ketchup to bulk up the sauce. Salt and peper to taste.

5. When you are happy with the base, throw in the (debearded and cleaned) mussels. Bring the sauce to a boil and cook for about 5-7 minutes until the shells have opened. Discard any that remain closed.

6. Add the grated parmesan and chopped basil. Mix well.

7. In a separate pot, cook the pasta according to the instructions on the packet. I usually add olive oil so the pasta doesnt stick and salt to season. Once cooked, drain and serve in a deep dish with the mussels.

And voila! Three happy bellies!

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Gastronauts, Gourmets, Foodies & Novices - Welcome...

Good food, (note the emphasis on ‘good’) is what being Malaysian is all about. Up there at the top of our priority list, right next to oxygen, good food is the cornerstone that punctuates every activity, however trivial or magnanimous, constantly dictating the agenda of our daily routine. It’s not unusual for Malaysians to drive for hours in the worst conditions (including bumper-to-bumper-traffic a.k.a. the most excruciating form of torture known to man, second only to ‘burning in the fires of hell’) to satisfy the ‘burning’ desires of their super-refined palates – perhaps heading up north for Ipoh Chicken Rice, down south for Laksa Johor or across town for Kajang Satay!

So it never ceases to amaze me how so many here in London are either oblivious or indifferent to the countless varieties of delicious cuisine readily available in this city. From European haute cuisine right through to Oriental hawker foods and straight across to African game delicacies – we really are spoilt for choice! And with that magical catchphrase ‘special offers’, there really is, in my mind, and I’m sure most Malaysians would agree, no excuse and no reason to settle for anything less than divine.

Recently, I was taken on a ‘date’ to Wagamama’s. Yes, that’s right. In 2009, I was dragged kicking and screaming, by the back of my hair to Wagamama’s in Spitalfield’s Market. Now don’t get me wrong, I am ALL for cheap eats but this is where I draw the line. The food is close to inedible and so far from authentic, you might as well head over to Mr Wu's Eat All You Can in China Town for an Indian Chicken Karahi! If there is one thing, and one thing only that you take away from this blog, do NOT, whatever the circumstances, take your date to Wagamama’s. Ever.

Ladies & Gentlemen, consider this your very own ‘Good Food Guide for the Frugal Gourmet.’ Lads (or ladettes) looking to impress your dates, friends, family, whoever - look no further! Within the pages of this blog you will find a systematic breakdown of what’s good and what’s not, where to go and where not to. To the exacting standards of a Malaysian Foodie, and best of all, without breaking the bank.

And if I’m in a really good mood, I might even throw in a few of my personal recipes should you decide to go that extra mile to really impress and cook up a storm at home. The surefire way to a (wo)man’s heart is, after all, through her tummy. If the very idea of cooking makes you feel like poking your right eyeball out with a sharp pencil, never fear! Coming from someone who once could not differentiate between an herb and a weed, a courgette and a cucumber, and even beef with lamb, my recipes are entirely idiot proof.

But then again, if you make something idiot proof, does that make someone a better idiot? Food for thought? ...