Steamed Cabbage and Carrots

The last recipe I posted was the ‘Tau Eu Bak’ (Soy SauceBraised Pork) recipe. Along with it, I also made this steamed cabbage to make the meal complete with some vegetables. So if you are also making the soy sauce braised pork, this can be made a few minutes before the braised pork is ready. As cabbage and carrots are naturally sweet vegetables, only minimal seasoning was needed to enhance it so its natural flavour could shine on its own. 





Steamed Cabbage and Carrots


Ingredients:

  • ½ head of cabbage
  • 2 small carrots (sliced)
  • 2 cloves garlic (chopped)
  • 3 tbs water (or more)
  • Dash of soy sauce and sesame oil to taste

Method:


1.  Wash and roughly cut the cabbage into big chunks.
2.  On a hot pan of medium heat, pour a little oil and sauté the garlic until fragrant.
3.  Place the carrots and cabbage into the pan then add about 3 tbs of water, cover and let them steam until  vegetables are slightly softened.
6.  Add a small dash of soy sauce and sesame oil to taste and stir to combine. 



Tau Eu Bak (Soy Sauce Braised Pork)

Growing up in Penang, I used to live with my extended family so there were two families and grandparents in one house. This makes it a little compact but we all had lots of fun where us kids will bond through playing remote control car, Super Mario, Barbie dolls, wrestling, transformers, making each other cry and all sorts.

When we were all living together, my aunt used to be the one who cooks most often cause she was an amazing cook. She made really good 'Tau Eu Bak' and always, with hard boiled eggs. One thing I regretted though, was that cooking was not my passion when young so I never actually spent the time asking her how to make such delicious food. Well, I guess I now have to make up for it.


So now that I am missing home cooked Aunt's food, I have to make it on my own. Luckily it is actually very easy to make and needs very few basic ingredients. So here is my version of Tau Eu Bak, pork belly slowly braised in soy sauce and slightly garlicky gravy. I'll make sure to get some special tips from her when I go home soon. For now, this is a good version and is best to eat with some 'sambal belacan' as it will give a different depth of flavour and spiciness to it.

Tau Eu Bak is also good when eaten with rice porridge / congee. Enjoy!


Tau Eu Bak (Soy Sauce Braised Pork)

Adapted from Nyonya Flavours book 
Serves 4

Ingredients:


  • 600g pork belly (cut into 3cm chunks)
  • 1 tbsp cornflour
  • 1 tbsp salt

Gravy:
  • 500ml water
  • 1 1/2 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tsp ground five spice
  • 10 white peppercorns (cracked)


Method:

1.  Rub pork with cornflour and salt to clean it then wash under running water until rid of any flour traces.
2.  Blanch the pork in boiling water to remove odour from meat and rinse under running water. Set pork aside.
3.  Combine gravy ingredients in a pot then bring to boil. Add pork into pot and simmer for 10 minutes before adding in garlic.
4.  Add in boiled eggs and sugar then continue to simmer for another 30 minutes or until meat is tender.
5.  Serve with sambal belacan on the side. This will make the braised pork spicy and more fragrant.



Tips:


  • This dish is best eaten with rice and some vegetables such as a simple steamed cabbage to be served together.

Hot Air Balloon Ride | Cappadocia

The entire experience from the drive to the perfect spot, to getting off the mini shuttle bus with dozens and dozens of hot air balloons laying flat on the ground, then watch them slowly ballooning to stand up proud and float into the sky so gently and effortlessly.

Everyone eagerly hopped into the basket with the biggest smiles and eyes wide open trying not to blink too much as to maximise the time gazing into one of the most magical scenery and experience of our lifetime.

"It was breathtaking and magical, neither words nor pictures are able to describe the feeling."




The lovey dovey hot air balloon couple :)








Directly on top of the fairy chimneys



How often is anyone able to view a tree from above it







Thanks to the many experienced crew and pilot, the entire experience was smooth and seamless. As you can see, we have been served some sparkling wine as a tradition to mark a successful flight.

Tips:


  • The Hot Air Balloon Ride can be quite expensive especially during peak season. The cheapest time is in December during off-peak where there are less tourist. Also, it is possible to get it for a reasonable price if they have done their quota for the year. We booked our flight from a travel agency in Istanbul a day before we left for Cappadocia.
  • December will be very very cold so wrap up! It was -10°C when I was there.


Arif Cave Hotel | Göreme

When researching on where to visit in Turkey other than Istanbul, the first on the list was Cappadocia, a historical region of Central Anatolio in Turkey. It is well known for their fairy chimney rock formations, underground cities, cave houses and rock temples. They are so beautiful, everyone should visit at least once in their lifetime.

Göreme was where we decided to stay. It is a town in Cappadocia which has hotels and restaurants. It is a small town but compared to the other towns, it is better populated and is more equipped for tourists. Daily tours operating in the area will have pickups from hotels. It is advised to go on a tour to see more sites out of town as there are no public transports available. The only other way is to hire a car. 


Arif Hotel is located slightly on a hilly part and has views that take your breath away. If you look carefully, there is a glass wall under the arch on the far right. This is the room where Turkish breakfast is served. 


Entrance to Arif Cave Hotel

As you enter the main gate, this is what you see

 A common waiting area

This was our room with a chillout area with two arm chairs and a coffee table

That's the bedroom and bathroom through the door

Isn't this romantic? Also, if you were wondering, the cave room was very well heated and warm during winter of -10C outside. I heard that some hotels can be quite chilly even though heated but this was very comfortable.


Night view from the top

I would highly recommend this hotel if you are planning to visit Cappadocia. There are also many good and affordable food around the area which is always a plus. 


How to get to Göreme?

The fastest way from Istanbul is to take a flight to Kayseri Airport. From the airport, take the pre-booked shuttle which will drop you to your hotel. Contact your hotel prior to arrival with details of your flight so they can arrange for a pickup shuttle. It will cost 25TL per person.

What to do in Göreme?

  • Hot Air Balloon ride (highly recommended)
  • 2 main tours
    • Red Tour (covers the north of Cappadocia)
    • Green Tour (covers the south of Cappadocia)
  • There are also many other tours and activities available during peak season

Where to eat?
  • Top Deck Restaurant
  • Firin Express
  • Koy Evi


Arif Cave Hotel

Aydınkırağı Mahallesi No: 11
Göreme / Nevşehir, Turkey

Tel: +90 384 271 23 61

Turkish Red Lentil Soup (Kırmızı Mercimek Çorbası)


While we were in Turkey, we had Lentil Soup almost everyday at least for the first week. So we have had our fair share of some good and bad ones. Luckily there were more good than bad so we enjoyed them thoroughly. Now that holiday in Turkey is over, I am missing this daily soup surge. The only way to overcome this craving is to make it at home. So here is an adapted version of Ozlem's recipe.



Turkish Red Lentil Soup

Adapted from Ozlem's Turkish Table
Serves 4

Ingredients:


  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 1 onion (finely chopped)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 300g split red lentils, washed
  • 2 tbs bulgur wheat
  • 2 cube chicken/ vegetable bouillon
  • 2 litre water
  • 3 tbs tomato paste
  • 20g butter
  • 3 tsp dried mint
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp dried red pepper flakes
  • freshly ground pepper and salt to taste

    Serve with:
  • dried red pepper flakes (for those who like it spicier)
  • drizzle of olive oil 
  • quartered lemon wedges
  • bread (optional)


Method:

1.  Sweat the onions with olive oil until soft.
2.  Add in the red lentils, water and chicken (or vegetable) bouillon and bring to boil.
3.  Turn the heat down and simmer gently for about 30 minutes until lentils are soft.
4.  Stir in the tomato paste, dried mint, pepper flakes and butter and simmer until creamy.
5.  Season with salt and pepper. Serve in a bowl and drizzle some olive oil and dried red pepper flakes.

3.  Serve hot with lemon wedges.


Tips:

  • The soup will thicken when cool. So add some water and reheat to thin the soup. 

Nutritional Analysis:

Pomegranate Juice in Turkey and its benefits


Pomegranate is everywhere in Turkey. It is almost impossible to walk along a street without coming across any shops, stalls or vendors selling Pomegranate fruits or juice. Pomegranate is also known for its many benefits. For starters, it contains the maximum amount of anti-oxidant in comparison to other fruits, at about 3 times more than green tea. This beautifully red seeded fruit can be used to heal ulcers or diarrhoea. It also provides protection from diabetes, heart diseases and some types of cancer.

So while any of you are ever in Turkey, pile on those pomegranate juice, like we did! You can get dried pomegranate too, to be made into pomegranate tea.

Pomegranate and citrus juice vendor
Yes, we were piling on those pomegranate juice! They were so fresh and naturally sweet too!


You may also like:
Karafirin
Karafirin
Halloumi, Fig & Pomegranate Salad
Halloumi, Fig & Pomegranate Salad
First night in Istanbul
First night in Istanbul

The art of making kuih kapit

Seeing that Chinese New Year will be just three weeks away, I would like to share with you my favourite Chinese New Year snack or treat of all time. It is what we call kuih kapit, which is similar to love letters but thinner and folded into quarters instead of a cigar shape. Once you have had your first crunch, it takes a strong will to stop finishing the whole tub. I was lucky to be able to watch my aunt make a big batch of these addictive festive treat. The downside is that I had to wake up really early as she had to start making them before it becomes warmer or shall I say hotter in the afternoon (Malaysian weather).

I shall briefly explain how they are made to give you an overall understanding of what she has to endure throughout this process. Kuih kapit has to be cooked on an open charcoal stove, standing and flipping the mould for about six hours or more, depending on portion of the batter.

Kuih kapit making process 1Start burning the charcoal before mixing the batter

Kuih kapit mouldMake sure the moulds are clean

Sieve the batter
Sieve the batter  (coconut milk, rice flour, sugar and eggs)

Flipping kuih kapit mouldsHeat up both sides of the moulds, oil and heat again. Make sure the moulds are hot.

Pouring batter on the mouldThen pour the mixture onto one side of the mould, clamp and put it back on the stove.

Peeling off from the mouldFlip the moulds frequently, open and check. When it turns brown, peel it out of the mould with your fingers. This is when it burns your fingers if your fingers aren't used to heat. Lucky my aunt has fingers made of steel! ;)

Folding kuih kapitThis is a two man process as the second person has to quickly fold the sheets into a quarter before it cools and hardens. Tips: This is when nails come in handy so you don't burn your fingers.

KUIH KAPIT! The end product of this tedious process.

A good kuih kapit is very thin and lightly folded. It should be paper thin and not folded flat, like making origami. It should have a slight curve on the folds to give it some space so when you eat it, you can feel the ever so thinly folded layers crunch in your mouth. It really isn't a great idea standing in front of the hot burning charcoal for half a day in such a hot weather. But look on the bright side. The end result is phenomenal !!