Where to eat satay in Petaling Jaya and Subang Jaya, Malaysia

When I am looking for local fast food in West Malaysia, it’s a toss-up between roti or satay. Both are delicious, and both provide a fun spectacle. Watching the Mamak chef deftly twirling his roti is exciting, but there’s something hypnotic about watching a satay maestro basting and fanning sizzling skewered meats over hot charcoal.


Satay is dinner fare at the hawker centres, but if you crave satay for lunch, head to one of the many outlets of Sate Kajang Haji Samuri. Kajang, a town 21km west of Kuala Lumpur, is famous for satay. History has it that satay was brought to Kajang from Java where it was given a local flavour and became very popular. Haji Samuri started in Kajang in 1960 and has become synonymous with satay in the state of Selangor and beyond. Their tagline translates to ‘For the real taste of satay kajang’. Continue reading

Easy BBQ pork ribs

With the warm weather upon us, I am back into my dinner parties, and with that, – lots of summer foods for entertaining. I have found the easiest hack to make delicious BBQ pork ribs, this would easily rival any restaurant quality ribs. It takes barely minutes of hands-on preparation and the meat is achingly tender, and superbly flavourful.  For the tastiest pork ribs, marinade the meat the night before, or for at least 4 hours.

Ask your butcher for whole rib racks. I purchase rib racks from Lims Orchard and Butcher at Glen Innes. The marinade is made primarily with Mrs HS Ball’s apricot and peach chutney (a tip from a South African friend), and I’ve added tomato paste for richness, and kicap manis for sweetness and colour. The proportions can be adjusted to your taste. Mrs HS Ball’s chutney is available at all Pak ‘n Save and New World supermarkets. Continue reading


I am taking baby steps into Korean food with bulgogi, a well-known Korean marinated meat dish, typically cooked over the grill. It has a sweet-savoury taste which is easy on the palate and found at all Korean eateries.

This recipe comes from Rachel, my Korean beautician. She tells me that she cooks bulgogi once a week and typically cooks 1kg of beef. The marinated meat can be kept frozen until required.

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Ottolenghi’s Roast pork belly with spiced plum, ginger & rhubarb relish

Being a visual learner (and having a memory like a sieve), I find many cookbooks and recipes confusing to follow because there are all words stumbling over each other, and then if you are lucky, a photo of the beautiful end result. Often times my attempts do not turn out anywhere as glorious, and I don’t know what went wrong. Then there are the real disasters; we don’t talk about those. I chronicle my cooking attempts using step-by-step photos as it helps me to remember what I did, and how it affected the outcome. My blog is my online google-able recipe journal.

I first heard about an amazing deli in Notting Hill when I visited London three years ago; I still kick myself for not searching it out. Luckily, all three cookbooks have been frequently called upon and Ottolenghi’s colourful and flavoursome recipes with a twist have garnered new fans of my dinner guests. These two recipes come from the eponymously named cookbook, and are great for a dinner party.

This summer has been a bumper season for plums; friends and neighbours have shared their delicious bounty with me. This relish is a real winner, and if bottled, the summer tastes can go on for months. I make double the recipe which fills 3x 300mL jars. Continue reading

A Melbourne interlude

A sample of murals around Melbourne CBD

It has been a very long time since Bren and I went away on holiday together. 15 years in fact. Before Christian, her oldest child (my godson) was born. Christian is now 14-and-a-half and towers over us. Time has not only flown, it installed supersonic jet engines. Since then, we have not lived in the same town, and in the last few years, or even the same country. We’ve talked about having a proper catch up for a while. The opportunity finally came up when Iwan, Bren’s husband gallantly volunteered to take care of the kids for a long weekend in exchange for his boys’ week. The date was set (Labour weekend), the place picked and a girls’ weekend was on!

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U’ng Zao pork

U’ng zao (red lees or ang chao in Hokkein) is veritable red gold for any Foochow cook. U’ng zao is the sediment from making u’ng jiu, Foochow red wine. It is the seminal ingredient in the famous Foochow dish, zao cai hoon ngan (rice noodle with mustard green pickled in red lees), and also gives a very unique flavour to savoury dishes. The red lees is sweet, a little tangy and quite alcoholic, like the wine. U’ng zao can keep for many months in the fridge; a little goes a long way.

I guard my supply of u’ng zao jealously, though Mum now has a friend who makes these and she brings yearly supplies from Christchurch (a.k.a. the Foochow capital of NZ). I typically use u’ng zao to marinate pork belly or chicken before roasting.

The colour of u’ng zao is simply stunning, – vivid crimson, which this dish displays in all its glory. I grew up with this dish, but surprisingly, had never cooked it. A quick phone call home put an end to that.

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Barbecued lamb on Le Puy lentil purée with garlic aioli, pickled red cabbage and hazelnut beignets

Try saying that three times quickly. Seriously, this dish is even more delicious than it sounds. This was the second dish chef Michael Van de Elzen demonstrated from his Molten cookbook during the Molten cooking demonstration at Nosh Mt Eden. The first was a potato tart with pickled fennel, green apple, sheep’s feta and wild rocket (and my version)

Michael states that this recipe takes 80 minutes to prep and cook (not withstanding marinating the lamb). I beg to differ; it took me the better part of 2 ½ hours, true, I did have to repeat a couple of recipes, but do give yourself plenty of time. One big, no, make that huge lesson, – mise en place is crucial, weigh everything out beforehand. This will greatly reduce the cussing… Continue reading

Braised pork belly with eggs

This is pure comfort food arena. Every Malaysian I know grew up with this dish; the sweet, slightly salty, sticky pieces of pork belly, its meltingly tender layers of fat and meat making a perfect complement to a bowl of rice.

This is an extremely easy recipe but you need to allow 2 hours, as the meat has to cook slowly in the braising liquid for 1½ hours. This reheats very well, and can be made the night before. Continue reading

Easy roast lamb & trimmings

When it’s my turn to cook dinner for a get-together and I want something fuss-free but still makes an impressive dinner, this is my default meal. Succulent rosemary scented, garlicky roast lamb with rich, red wine gravy, and roast potatoes always goes down a treat. Everything cooks together, and is ready at the same time. Toss together a leaf salad, and it’s a complete meal.

I use a leg of lamb, you need to allow ~1.5kg for 4 adults, ~2kg for 6, ~2.5kg for 8. These sizes will give 200 – 250g of meat per person, which is plenty; you should have extras for fantastic sandwiches the following day. Continue reading

Rolled roast pork belly with thyme, fennel seeds and pistachio

Pork belly is by far, my favourite cut of pork. It’s too easy to end up with dry pork, but it’s just about impossible to achieve that with pork belly. The long cooking time allows the layers of fat to slowly melt, making for an incredibly tender roast. Plus you get crackling, – the best of both worlds.

I found this recipe on the web a while ago, but as things go, I can’t seem to locate it again. I’ve added pistachios to it, to add more texture and interest. This recipe recommends you prepare the roast and leave it to marinate overnight in the fridge. I wasn’t organised enough, so it sat with its marinade for all of 10 minutes, but still came out tasting great. It tasted better the following day, so I’m inclined to believe that you should let it marinate overnight. Continue reading