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Merdeka Open House: Chicken Kapitan

When my husband and I were still in our dating stage of our relationship, he brought me to visit his family’s home town- Malacca. It was a truly amazing experience, standing in the midst of a busy street at Jasin, imaging what it must be like for him growing up, visiting his grandmother, playing with his cousins and eating all the fabulous food one can find there!

Most of hubby’s family have since moved to KL. His grandmother passed away sometime ago, but his uncles and my father in law continued to check in their little family home now and then.

As usual, when Babe in KL annouced this year’s theme of Merdeka Open House, I asked what he would like me to cook. His response was unusually quiet as he spoke about one of his favourite dishes that his mother used to cook for him and how it reminded him of Malacca.

I could still recall, those days where we could bring in to Australia home made curry pastes. His mother would prepare a few packets of rempah, and in some cases, even curry pastes of Chicken Kapitan. When hubby and I were housemates, I used to look forward to his turn to cook- because he would use his mother’s curry pastes!

It makes sense then, when he requested that I make Chicken Kapitan this year. Celebrating where his family comes from when they arrived in Jasin so many years ago, and how his uncles witness their father (My grandfather in law if it makes sense!) build his establishments, allowing the uncles to have the future they have now, and allowing my husband and his generation to build their future.  Not forgetting, a big thank you to my mother in law who packed and prepared all those years of chicken kapitan pastes so that hubby (and me!) could have a taste of home.

Chicken Kapitan is a Nonya dish, a chicken in a rich coconut curry gravy. My kitchen was filled with the lovely flavours of lemongrass, belacan and ginger. Ah, I’m slowly loving my quest of cooking curry from scratch this year.

Chicken Kapitan (serves 4-5)
500 grams of chicken thigh (Or you can use 1 kg of chicken drumsticks)
1 tsp oil
5 eschalots diced
270 ml of coconut cream
juice of 1/2 lemon/lime

To be blended or pounded
4 chili padi
3 eschalots
5 cloves of garlic
2.5 cm each of ginger, galangal and tumeric, peeled and sliced
5 candlenuts
2 stalks of lemongrass white part only, chopped finely
1 tsp belacan (dried shrimp paste)

Blend the blended ingredients into a paste. Heat oil in a pan and fry paste for around 5 minutes. Your kitchen will smell so good then! Brown chicken and eschalots. Turn chicken to coat in paste. Add coconut cream with 100 ml of water and cover pan with lid. Boil and them simmer for another 20 minutes or so. Uncover and simmer for another 5-10 minutes. Stir in lemon/lime juice. Serve with hot rice.

Sending my love to this year’s event of Merdeka’s Day organised by Babe in Kl!

(reminds me.. I should start an event for Singapore National Day next year!)



Soy Bean Paste Chicken Stew

Ok, so I am fast discovering different ways of using soy bean paste. That’s the thing about having a huge jar of it in the fridge, you think of ways to use it! LOL

I’m pretty impressed with this chicken stew though. It’s really good with rice, easy to cook and tasty. The best thing about this is the sauce of course.

So I wonder.. how many more dishes I could cook up with soy bean paste?

Soy Bean Paste Chicken Stew (serves 4)
400 grams of chicken thigh diced
1 red onion sliced thinly
1 chilli chopped
1 tablespoon of garlic
2 tablespoon of soy bean paste
1/2 cup of water
2 potatoes diced

Saute garlic, onion and chili. Add soy bean sauce for around 3 minutes. Brown chicken with sauce. Add water and potatoes. Simmer for 15-20 minutes. Serve with rice and vegetables.


Roasted Capsium Garlic Pesto Spaghetti

 Using Jamie Oliver’s 30 minutes cookbook has inspired me to make sauces for pasta myself. He opened my eyes to the kind of things I could do with my humble food processor. Having a jar of grilled capsicum on hand, I thought it would be pretty cool to blitz everything up and use it as a sauce base.

Further, my hubby bought 15 cans of tuna. Seriously. 15 cans. They were on sale, and it’s the kind we like (John West) so he decided to purchase it for “rainy days”. Now I like a good tuna sandwich and perhaps a tuna potato cake one day but 15 jars? woah!

So I used it in this pasta as well.

I made this with little intention to blog it, but when I did a taste test, I thought it turned out pretty well. A pasta sauce that is not tomato based or cream based! Pretty cool hey.

Roasted Capsicum Garlic Pesto Spaghetti (serves 4)
500 grams of spaghetti cooked in boiling salted water
3 cans of chili tuna
1 chopped yellow capsicum
1 cup of corn
1 cup of peas

To be blitzed
250 grams of roasted capsicum (You can roast it yourself but I got mine from a jar)
1 tablespoon of garlic
around 80 grams of basil leaves
1 tablespoon of olive oil
3 chili padi chopped

Blitz everything up. Heat pan and blitzed ingredients. Saute all veges first. Toss through tuna for around 5 minutes. Toss pasta though. Serve with some cheese if desired.


Indian Fish Curry

Whenever I think of having fish, it’s either steamed, pan fried or in a curry form. Looking back, I always feel more comfortable having curry fish (or steamed fish) than other versions. Attempting it at home however, is another story.

I spotted this recipe by Betty Saw some time ago from her “Rasa Malaysia” Cookbook. Woah, that cookbook is filled of goodies.

Again, I chose a recipe that I know ingredients can be source here at our markets. I didn’t use as much coconut as stated in the recipe. On hindset, I should have ground the ingredients but chopped them finely instead.

I love the tangy, rich taste of this. I used barramundi fillet but am thinking of using snapper next time-a fish which is firmer.

This year, it’s my aim to master the art of making curries. While I am not quite there yet, this recipe makes me feel proud that I have stepped out of my comfort zone-and resisted using package sauces! woohoO!

Indian Fish Curry (serves 4)
400 grams Barramundi fillet sliced
100 grams of squid sliced
1 tsp salt
6 tbsp of curry powder mixed with 100 ml water
1 tsp mustard seeds
a few slices of tamarind soaked in few tsp of water. strain pulp
250 ml coconut milk
3 brinjals sliced diagnonally
1/2 can of tomatoes or 3 tomatoes quarted

Ingredients to be grounded (or chopped finely)
4-5 chili padi or 25 dried chillies soaked
around 6 shallots chopped
4 stalks of lemongrass

Rub fish with 1 tsp of salt. Set aside.

Heat some oil in wok or pan. Fry grounded or finely chopped ingredients. Then add curry powder paste and mustard seeds. Fry till fragrant. If mixture appears dry, add some tamarind liquid.

Add curry leaves. Fry for 3-5 more minutes before adding the rest of the tamarind liquid and coconut milk.

When it starts to boil, add the brinjals. Simmer for around 10 minutes. Then add fish, salt and tomatoes. Cook till fish is done. Serve with rice.


Chicken Basil and Carrot Patties

Being on the no sauce and no sugar diet makes me think out of the box. I learned to use more spices and certainly more herbs. I rely more on the natural ingredient rather than using sauces to enhance it.

I also realised how reliant I was on so many things. From chinese cooking wine to sauces… and I have not baked for a month!

Usually I made these chicken patties with breadcrumbs and sauces. Today, I made them with shredded carrot and basil leaves with egg to bind them. I was seriously surprise by the outcome. It was meaty and juicy.

A hint of sesame and of course, sesame oil again lifts the flavour. Going back to basics does work after all!!

Chicken Basil and Carrot Patties (makes around 8-10)
500 grams chicken mince
1 carrot shredded
1 bunch of basil leaves- probably around 50 grams or so
toasted sesame seeds
1 tsp of sesame oil
1 egg

Bind everything together, fridge for around 20 minutes. Shape them into patties and fry them!


Cross Country Fried Rice Noodles

Have you ever gone to various restaurants, look at what they have in their menu and wondered if those items indeed exist in their own country? For example, I have seen “Malaysian Fried Noodles” and “Singapore Fried Noodles” in menus.. but none of the Singaporeans or Malaysians I spoke to say they exist in their respective countries.

Besides, I don’t recall any other fried noodles named by their respective noodles.. How about a Taiwan Style? or Korean Fried Noodles? Or Japanese Fried Soba? mmm..strange.

Wait, I suppose we can call a roast English Roast? Or Spanish Paella.

Perhaps not that strange afterall.

I was curious though and recall asking a chinese takeaway place what’s the difference between Malaysian and Singapore Fried noodles. His reply was that Malaysian Fried noodles has turmeric, and Singapore style fried noodles has curry powder it it.

Oh alright then. Since we are a household of BOTH Singaporean AND Malaysian, I shall use both spices in my fried noodles.

and call them Cross Country Noodles!

The truth is, I was trying to avoid using sauces and I have to be creative in using spices instead. I was actually quite surprised by the results. I prefer this version than using sauces I think. The turmeric and curry powder does lift the flavour of bland rice noodles. It also went very well with squid and a little pork mince.

Cross Country Fried Rice Noodles  
200 grams of rice noodles soaked in hot water and drained
100 grams pork mince
300 grams of squid sliced
1 onion sliced
3 chilli padi sliced
1 tablespoon of garlic
2 tablespoon of cumin
1 tablespoon of turmeric
1 tsp of hot curry powder
4-5 cups of sliced cabbage
1 carrot shredded
sesame oil

Fry onions, garlic and chilli till nice and fragrant. Add pork mince and fry till cooked. Add in squid. Toss through spices and all veges. Cook for 2-3 minutes. Toss through noodles. Add some water if needed. Season with salt and pepper. Drizzle some sesame oil. Serve hot.


Tuna Corn and Potato Muffins

I made these little savoury muffins to go with soup one night. It’s such a easy quick one that I thought you might find it useful as well. I didn’t add any flour to it, so it’s really just potatoes and eggs that are holding it together.

It’s really adorable holding these little muffins in your hand and dipping it into soup! I am sure it will be a good picnic dish as well or lunch box for school or work.

I took these photos when the muffins were not cooled yet. But once it is, you can peel away the wrapper and eat it as it is. I used chilli tuna (yes, I do like chili in everything!) but I’m thinking some basil leaves will accentuate the flavour as well. Another quick fix, is to use some cheese in it and make it cheesy tuna and corn potato muffins!!! Ah, more to experiment.

Tuna Corn and Potato Muffins (makes around 10)
3 potatoes cooked in hot salted water
2 tins of tuna of your choice
1/3 cup of corn

Season with salt and pepper

2 tablespoons of olive oil
1/2 cup of soy milk

Preheat oven 180 C. Line muffin tray with muffin cups.
Mash potato with olive oil and soy milk (or normal milk). Then fold in tuna and corn. Season. Spoon mixture into muffin cups. Bake for 25 minutes.


Braised Pan Fried Snapper with Spicy Bean Paste

Ever since I experimented with Soy Bean Paste, I am in love with it. Chinese cooking is not the same without it anymore. Usually I would say that my must haves in the kitchens are oyster and soy sauce but I’m beginning to feel that this is one of the musts have in a chinese kitchen as well.

I would never recommend it to have it regularly of course- as the amount of salt in there would be quite scary to know. But the occasional use of it in dishes, I presume should be fine.

I nearly hesitated posting this dish as I didn’t like the look of the fish head! However, this is my first attempt in braising a fish- usually I would steam a whole fish and pan fried fillets instead. Hubby encouraged me to post it anyway, since I was stepping out of my comfort zone in the kitchen.

The photos are not very well taken- I’m really sorry. I need to find a way to make a whole fish sexy! How do photographers do that???

Nevertheless, it was one way of introducing more fish in our diet. Always a good thing isn’t it?

Braised Pan Fried Snapper with Spicy Bean Paste  
300 grams of baby snapper cleaned

1 onion sliced
1 knob of ginger sliced
2 chilli chopped
1 tsp of garlic
2 tablespoon of soy bean paste
1/2 cup of water

Lightly salt the snapper. Oil pan and pan fried till cooked with a nice crisp (but not deep fried). When the fish is nearly done. I push it aside, and start frying garlic, ginger and onions till soft. Added the chili, soy bean paste and water. Simmer. I spoon it on the fish and let the fish absorb the flavours for around 4 minutes. Serve warm with rice.


Spiced Potatoes

I didn’t have the chance to research and read up on masala potatoes and decided to do a dry potato curry version of what I think would go well. Since it is not the real masala, I decided to call it spiced potatoes instead.

I really like the dance of flavours that goes in this. It’s a quick side dish to make for sure. I used a blend of cumin (oh my favourite spice!), coriander powder, turmeric and curry powder.

So till the next time that I make some real masala potatoes, this will do!

Spiced Potatoes (Serves 2-3)
3 potatoes peeled and diced.

1 tablespoon of oil
1 tablespoon of cumin
1 tsp of curry powder
1 tsp coriander powder

Cook potatoes in salted water. Drained. Mean while, heat a shallow pan with oil and fry spices till fragrant. Toss in potatoes for around 5 minutes. Serve warm.


Apom- Indian Coconut Pancakes

A traditional Sunday for hubby, his brother and parents, would be a trip down to the local Indian shop for a hearty breakfast of Thosai and Apoms. If I have to choose, I would say Thosai is my favourite. I love the thin pancakes and the condiments that come with it (dahl, coconut and usually a spicy curry gravy). My mother in law’s favourite item would be Apom. My hubby would usually order both.

My mother in law gave me this cute little wok the last time we went back to KL., She said she bought this with the intentional of making apom at home, but given the availability of it in KL, she changed her mind and store it away. Since hubby likes it, would I try making it in Aus? I accepted the challenge.

And challenge it was! Obviously, I couldn’t do the diet and make this at the same time, so I started the diet after making this (Always the next day right?). I made the mixture the night before, and made my first apom the next morning. It was certainly an adventure as I wasn’t sure if what I was doing was right. I do know that a good apom is thin on the edges with a slight crisp and soft in the centre.After reading up on a few recipes, I experimenting with the batter, this appears to be it.

(First attempt)

I learned that a hot work is the way to go. I didn’t need to add any oil as the wok that I have is non stick. One has to swirl the wok very quickly though to make sure the batter coats the sides of the wok. I wasn’t sure how much batter should I have and ended up with 20 apoms. Obviously, that lasted us for both lunch and dinner with leftovers to boot!!

You can choose to make a sweet coconut syrup to go with it. Or you can choose to have it with dahl. I made a spiced potato (aka my version of masala potatoes) as hubby wanted something more substantial.

The funny thing was, half way through lunch, he said “dear, this is vegetarian!!!!!!!”

(finally getting the little bubbles right)

I replied: “yes dear. It is!!! and this time round, it was YOUR request to have this.”

Apom (Plain hoppers Coconut Pancakes) -makes 20
3 tablespoons of cooked rice
1/2 cup of warm water
1 tsp of yeast

500 grams of rice flour
1/4 cup of sugar
1 tsp of salt
800 grams of coconut milk

Blend cooked rice, warm water and yeast together. Put dry ingredients in a large bowl. Pour blended mixture followed by the coconut milk. Mix well. Glad wrap it and leave it overnight.

Next day, heat your wok till hot! Ladle mixture (2x) into the wok. Swirl it quickly. Cover and cook for around 3-4 minutes. Remove lid and let it cook for another min. Slide on plate. Keep it warm in an oven.

Make coconut condiment by heating up 100 ml of coconut milk with 2-3 tsp of sugar.