Thursday, April 16, 2009

You Say Potatoe, I say Potato

Story and images by Veronica Ng

I was a bit wary when my Editor asked me to present myself at Signature Kitchen waay in the boondocks of Kota Damansara to review a cooking class by celebrity chef Amy Beh, organized by Flavours Magazine in conjunction with the US Potato Board. Finding the place was an adventure by itself.

I reported myself to the Star Publications executive in charge, Ms Julie Wong who turned out to be very helpful indeed and gave me a seating place right at the front.

I saw Amy doing her preparations with the assistance of her right hand man Jason and took the opportunity to ask a few questions. Amy proved to be a good multi-tasker as she handled both the set-up and my questions professionally.

Today’s three recipes were potato based, and each participant was given a goodie bag with booklets on the tuber, recipes, more recipes and samples of US Russet, Blue &Purple and Round Reds potatoes.

Did you know that the potato is a much misunderstood vegetable? Many people are led to believe that the spud is worthless and starchy with empty calories? In actual fact it is high in vitamin C, packs more potassium than a banana and is naturally fat free and averages about 110 calories only. So have a little respect, please, people.

Amy quickly got down to business with her Braised Chicken Stew and soon filled the room with the wonderful aroma of home-cooking. The stew contained chicken, US Round Red potatoes, Chinese mushrooms, dried cuttlefish, various spices and both light and dark soy sauce.

Next up was the Thai Style Chicken and Potato Curry which featured the US Round Red and Purple potatoes, bamboo shoots, kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, galangal, turmeric, coriander, red chillies, shrimp paste and meat curry powder in coconut milk.

Finally she launched into Deep Fried Potato Bread with US Russet and Purple potatoes, wholemeal flour, salt, pepper and corn oil for binding. She fried them in her wok and drained them on kitchen paper.

Then it was our turn to try our hand at the recipes and you can well image the scenario with 40 women in the kitchen, all cooking and chatting at the same time.

It was a Saturday afternoon well spent as I made many new friends and learned a couple of new recipes as well. I will definitely be there for future classes.

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Thursday, April 02, 2009

Peking Duck promotion at PJ Hilton

photo sequence of Chef Wang carving the duck skin

The dish is prized for its thin, crispy skin, with authentic versions of the dish serving mostly the skin and little meat, traditionally sliced in front of the diners by the chef. Ducks bred specially for the dish are slaughtered after 65 days and seasoned before being roasted in a closed or hung oven. The meat is often eaten with pancakes, spring onions, and hoisin sauce or sweet noodle sauce.

Duck has been roasted in China since the Southern and Northern Dynasties. A variation of roast duck was prepared for the Emperor of China in the Yuan Dynasty. The dish was originally named "Shaoyazi" (燒鴨子).

The Peking Roast Duck that came to be associated with the term was fully developed during the later Ming Dynasty, and by then, Peking Duck was one of the main dishes on imperial court menus. The first restaurant specialising in Peking Duck, Bianyifang, was established in the Xianyukou, Qianmen area of Beijing in 1416.

Fattened ducks are slaughtered, feathered, eviscerated and rinsed thoroughly with water. Air is pumped under the skin through the neck cavity to separate the skin from the fat. The duck is then soaked in boiling water for a short while before it is hung up to dry.

While it is hung, the duck is glazed with a layer of maltose syrup, and the innards are rinsed once more with water. Having been left to stand for 24 hours, the duck is roasted in an oven until it turns shiny brown.

Peking Duck is traditionally roasted in either a closed oven or hung oven. The closed oven is built of brick and fitted with metal griddles. The oven is preheated by burning Gaoliang wood at the base. The duck is placed in the oven immediately after the fire burns out, allowing the meat to be slowly cooked through the convection of heat within the oven.

The cooked Peking Duck is traditionally carved in front of the diners and served in three stages. First, the skin is served dipped in sugar and garlic sauce. The meat is then served with steamed pancakes , scallions and sweet noodle sauce

Several vegetable dishes are provided to accompany the meat, typically cucumber and carrot sticks. The diners spread sauce, and optionally sugar, over the pancake. The pancake is wrapped around the meat with the vegetables and eaten by hand.

Chef Wang’s version is the real deal as he takes great pain in the preparation and attention to detail for his creations, including importing the pancakes from China and personally serving every duck to diners with flair and showmanship.

The Peking Duck is priced at a reasonable RM108++ per bird, and you can take advantage of the ongoing promotion that offers a 7 course set menu at RM106++ per person (minimum 2 pax) to tuck into Peking Duck skin wrapped in pancake, Braised Shark’s Fin Soup with Eight Treasures and Fish Lips, Wok Fried Fresh Scallop & Prawns with XO sauce, Steamed Red Garoupa with light Soya Sauce, Stir Fried Seasonal Vegetables with Shredded Duck Meat in Oyster Sauce, Fried Rice with Diced Duck Meat & Belacan topped off with Tropical Fruit Fruits for dessert. For every table of 10 pax, they’ll even give you a complimentary bottle of wine.

Clockwise- Wok Fried Fresh Scallop & Prawns with XO sauce, Stir Fried Seasonal Vegetables with Shredded Duck Meat in Oyster Sauce, Fried Rice with Diced Duck Meat & Belacan

Steamed Red Garoupa with light Soya Sauce,

Braised Shark’s Fin Soup with Eight Treasures and Fish Lips

Citibank cardholders enjoy a 15% discount on the Peking Duck promotion. For reservations or simply to get more info, call +603 7955 9122 ext 4073/4 or surf to


Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Celebrate Nother's Day at Nikko Hotel

At Toh Lee Chinese Restaurant, diners can savour the lavish and delicious layered ingredients of Big Bowl Feast, also known as ‘Poon Choi’. The tradition of “Poon Choi” dates back to Song Dynasty when China was invaded by the Mongolians and the Imperial family was forced to flee south to Hong Kong. The Imperial family was served with the ‘Poon Choi’ in a big wooded basin. ‘Poon Choi’ is also normally served during religious rituals, festivals, special occasions and wedding functions but now, it can be enjoyed throughout the year.

Big Bowl Feast at Toh Lee Chinese Restaurant will be available in two set menus, both lunch and dinner. Set Menu A, comprising Dried Scallops, Whole Jade Abalone, Fish Maw, Tiger Prawns, BBQ Chicken, Fish Balls, Flower Mushrooms, Duck and Chicken Meat, Dried Oysters, Yam, Bak Cai and Broccoli; with complimentary bowl of Bird’s Nest, specially for Mom. Priced at RM100.00++ per order (minimum of 3 persons dining). Also available is the Double Boiled Bird’s Nest with Rock Sugar, priced at RM15.00++ per bowl.

As for Set Menu B, diners can sample other scrumptious ingredients such as Baby Shark’s Fin, Whole Baby Abalone, Fish Air Bladder, Venison Tendon, Sea Cucumber, Fish Prawn, Chicken Meat Loaf, Prawn Dumplings, Dried Ginseng and many more, priced at RM150.00++ per order (minimum of 3 persons dining). To end this delicious meal, try the Double Boiled Bird’s Nest with Cordyceps and Rock Sugar, priced at RM15.00++ per bowl.

At Benkay Japanese Restaurant, the ‘All-You-Can Eat Lunch and Dinner’ promotion offers a selection of shabu shabu OR sukiyaki, priced at RM150.00++ per person. Diners can choose from and assortment of appetizer ranging from Tomato and Cheese Tofu, Marinated Octopus with Sesame Oil, Baby Ginger with Bean Paste, Grilled Board Beans and Grilled Sting Ray. In addition, diners can indulge in the Mixed Chirashi Sushi and Ice-cream as much as coffee to end the meal.

Toh Lee Chinese Restaurant and Benkay Japanese Restaurant, both located at Level 1 of Hotel Nikko Kuala Lumpur, is open daily for lunch from 12.00 noon to 2.30 p.m. and dinner from 6.30 p.m. to 10.30 p.m. On weekends and Public Holidays, lunch at Toh Lee Chinese Restaurant starts from 11.00 a.m. to 2.30 p.m.

For reservations:

Toh Lee Chinese Restaurant : +60 3 2782 6128

Benkay Japanese Restaurant : +60 3 2782 6188


Nikko Hotel's Cocktail Grove

A truly exhilarating cocktail, the Cocktail Grove is a mixture of coconut rum, crème de bananes, white rum, pineapple juice and lemon juice; garnished with slices of pineapple and lemon whereas the ever-so-famous Florida Pina Colada is a definite must-have. This exotic cocktail features a blend of pineapple juice, vanilla ice-cream, coconut rum, dark rum, orange juice and cream together with ice cubes. The refreshing cocktail of Caribbean Pineapple is made from part Malibu coconut rum and part pineapple juice; served garnished with a maraschino cherry. All cocktails are priced at RM30.00++ per glass.

For non-alcoholics, fret not as our mixologists have created the Tropical Splendor using coconut cream, strawberries puff, milk, pineapple juice, pomegranate juice and vanilla extract; all blended together with ice and served with whipped cream. Or go nuts with Coco-Nuts, a nutrient-filled mocktail of vanilla yogurt, coconut milk, apple juice and banana with crushed ice and honey to sweeten. Alternatively order the Mad about Coconuts. A delightful frosty mocktail of coconut ice cream, vanilla ice cream, pineapple juice, sprite and sliced kiwi.

Mocktails are priced at RM28.00++ per glass.