Life's like that!

September 23, 2009

Recipe: Malaysian Ground Beef Satay and Peanut Sauce

Usually I stir fry ground beef with ginger and scallions, but since I am craving for Malaysian satay, I decided to make it for dinner today.

All praise be to Allah SWT with the help of my 7-year-old Cuisinart blender, these two recipes are not as complicated as they look.


Start to finish: 1 hour

Servings: 5

1 medium yellow onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, chopped

2-inch piece fresh ginger, grated

1 anchovy, mashed

1 scallion, roughly chopped

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground cardamom

1 teaspoon curry powder

1 teaspoon ground cloves

1 teaspoon chili powder

1/2 cup roasted peanuts, roughly chopped

1/2 bunch fresh cilantro

2 eggs

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1 pound ground beef

Salt and ground black pepper, to taste

1 teaspoon tamarind concentrate

1 cup water

1/4 cup soy sauce

4 tablespoons brown sugar

2 tablespoons sesame oil

In a shallow bowl filled with water, soak 10 bamboo skewers.

In a food processor, pulse the onion, garlic, ginger, anchovy, scallion, cumin, cardamom, curry powder, cloves, chili powder, peanuts, cilantro, eggs and flour until finely chopped. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl.

Add the beef, then use your hands to knead the mixture until well combined. Form the mixture into logs roughly 4 inches long and 1 inch round. Gently insert a skewer into each log. Alternatively, the logs can be formed around each skewer. Set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together the tamarind concentrate and water. Set aside.

In a small saucepan over medium-high, combine the soy sauce and brown sugar. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Add the tamarind mixture and simmer until it thickens. Remove from the heat and stir in the sesame oil. Set aside.

Heat a grill to medium. Brush the grill grates with olive oil.

Grill the skewers until one side is cooked through, about 2 minutes. Carefully turn the skewers and let cook for another minute, basting with the glaze. Repeat until the beef is cooked fully, about 1 to 2 more turns.

Malaysian Satay Peanut Sauce


1 1/2 cup dry roasted peanuts (unsalted)
1 cup water
1 tablespoon sweet soy sauce (Kecap Manis)
1 1/2 tablespoon sugar (palm sugar preferred)
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup oil
1 heaped tamarind pulp (soaked in 1/4 cup water for 15 minutes, squeeze the tamarind pulp for juice and discard the pulp)

Spice Paste:

6-8 dried red chilies (seeded and soaked in warm water)
3 cloves garlic
3 shallots
2 lemon grass (white parts only)
1 inch ginger (galangal preferred)
1 tablespoon coriander powder (optional)


Crush the peanuts coursely with mortar and pestle or mini food processor and set aside.

Chop the spice paste ingredients and blend until fine. Heat oil and fry the spice paste until aromatic and smell spicy. Add the peanuts, tamarind juice, water, sugar, sweet soy sauce and stir thoroughly. Simmer in low heat while continue stirring for about 3 minutes until the peanut sauce turns smooth. Serve at room temperature with the satay.


September 11, 2009

Recipe: Bubur Lambuk (Malay Porridge)

I just spoke with Sr. Nor and she mentioned that in Malaysia, a spicy rice porridge is usually served at local mosques only during the Islamic month of fasting.

When I was in Singapore, I tried this porridge once and quite liked the taste.

All praise be to Allah SWT I found variation of this recipe on the internet.

Allah SWT willing I will cook it before the last day of fasting on next Friday.

Bubur Lambuk Recipe from Kampung Baru Mosque


  • 200gm white rice
  • 200ml thick coconut milk
  • 500gm beef (chopped into bite-size pieces
  • 2 stalks lemon grass
  • 2 tablespoons ghee
  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • Salt to taste
  • Water
Spice mix
  • 2.5cm (1 inch) cinnamon stick
  • 3 pcs cloves
  • 1 pc star anise
  • 2 pcs cardamom
Pounded ingredients
  • 2.5cm (1 inch) piece of ginger
  • 6 pcs shallot
  • 6 pcs garlic
Blended ingredients
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seed
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seed
  • 1 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorn

Heat oil and ghee. Add pounded ingredients and stir-fry till fragrant.

Add spice mix, blended ingredients and beef pieces. Cook until meat is tender.

Pour in water before adding rice and lemon grass. Bring rice and water to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer till rice turns into the texture of porridge.

Add coconut milk and season to taste with salt.

Serve dish with a sprinkle of fried shallots.

Savoury Rice Porridge Recipe - Bubur Lambuk
200 g rice
2 1/2 liter water
150 g lean beef cut, minced or coarsely chopped
150 g boneless chicken meat, diced
150 g medium-sized shrimps, peeled, deveined and diced
4 cm cinnamon
1 piece star anise, whole
4 cloves garlic
3 cm fresh garlic, scrapped and bruised
10 pieces black peppercorns
150 ml thick coconut milk
4 tbsp deep-fried shallots
4 tbsp spring onions, chopped moderately
Salt to taste

Method :

* Wash rice in several changes of water, drain and put in a large pan, add water and bring to a boil
* Add cinnamon, star anise, garlic, ginger and beef.
* Partially cover with a lid and simmer gently, stirring constantly for about 1 hour or until rice is very soft and creamy. If the porridge appears to dry out, add a little hot water.
* When rice is soft, remove cinnamon, star anise and ginger, then add chicken and shrimps and simmer for another 15 minutes.
* Add the coconut milk here if desired (optional) and season to taste with salt.
* Serve hot, garnished with fried shallots and spring onions.

Tip: The rice should be cooked until the grains are broken and the texture is smooth, soft and creamy.

Bubur Lambuk

1 cup rice

1 cup minced beef/chicken

1 tablespoon dried shrimp, pounded

2 potatoes, diced

1 carrot, diced

1 celery stick, sliced

1 medium onion, sliced

11/2 ginger, sliced

¼ cups peanut/groundnut

1 cube chicken stock

Chinese celery, chopped

1 packet coconut milk

Fried shallots


Cook rice to make porridge.

Heat oil in frying pan and fry onion, ginger and dried shrimp for 1-2 minutes. Remove from pan and add into porridge.

Add in minced beef, potato and carrot. Stir well. Add chicken stock cube.

Add celery stick and nuts.

When the porridge starts simmering, add coconut milk and stir well. Add salt to taste.

Serve topped with chopped Chinese celery and fried shallots

Recipe from: Eileen Ng

Ulam Salad

20 jering seeds (similar to chestnuts)

1 cucumber

2 carrots

250 grams jungle shoots

100 grams okra

Half a head of cauliflower

One head of broccoli

Lightly boil jering seeds if ripe. Leave them raw if unripe.

Saute okra, but not so much that it loses its crunchiness.

Cut cauliflower and broccoli in medium sized florets.

Cut sticks from carrots and cucumber.

Wash and cut jungle shoots into strips.

Arrange the vegetables on a bed of the shoots and other green leaves.

Recipe from: Hatta Ramli, treasurer of the opposition Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party

Sambal Belacan

Red chilies, to taste, usually 10 or so

1 calamansi lime or tamarind juice or raw mango

Dried shrimp paste, or "belacan,"

also to taste--roasted till

pungently fragrant

Pinch of salt

Dry-grind chilies coarsely (traditionally, pounded by hand)

Continue grinding chilies while adding a little of the roasted shrimp paste at a time, until it is used up.

Leave the sauce with a slightly coarse texture, it should not be too smooth.

Squeeze in the calamansi or tamarind juice.

Run raw mango slices in a blender and add to the paste to give it a tangy taste if required.

Mix well and the sambal is ready.

Recipe from: Pauline Jasudason

Kelantanese Style Bubur Lambuk

Serving: 8-10 people
1 Kg rice
4-6 liter water
3 cloves garlic
7 shallots
2 tsp whole black peppers

1 cup pucuk paku merah
1 cup pucuk manis
1 cup bayam (Spinach)

1 cup squid (diced finely)
1 cup prawn (diced finely)
2 stingray fillets (grilled and shredded into fine pieces)
2 ikan selar/mackerel fillet (grilled and shredded into fine pieces)
2 cups chicken (cooked and shredded into fine pieces)

2 cups coconut milk
salt and sugar to taste

Soak rice in plain water for at least half an hour to make it softer and faster to cook later.
Pound together garlic, shallots and black peppers.
Boil the rice until it becomes thick. Add more water as you cook to get the thickness you desire.
Continually stir the rice regularly otherwise the bottom will become crusty. (The trick is to use high flame initially and turn it to medium flame once the water boils.)
Add the meats (chicken first if you use them, followed by prawns, squids, fish and vegetables).
Add salt and sugar and continue cooking for at least 1+1/2 hour.
Add coconut milk and continue cooking for about 15 minutes more.
If you find your porridge becomes too thick along the way, just add a bit more water and cook a bit longer.

Serve it with fried shallots, onion leaves, small celery and pounded birds eye chillies mixed with vinegar.

BuBur Lambuk

100 gm rice
A piece of pandanus leaves
2 stems lemon grass
4 cm ginger
4 cm skin cinnamon
300 gm chicken (diced fine)
2 pieces of spring onion
4 flowers lawang
200 gm ghee
1 ½ liters of water
2 gm cardamom fruit
5 gm garlic fries
2 cups coconut milk

Sliced ingredients:
4 onion peel
2 peel garlic

Heat oil, add pandan leaves, garlic, onion, skin cinnamon, cardamom and Star anise fruit.
Stir fry until fragrant and aroma increased.
Add water and rice.
When rice is fluff, add salt, coconut milk, chicken.
Bring to boil until cooked.
Serve with fried onions and sliced onion.


September 09, 2009

Japan: A story of love and hate

My dear sister just forward a link to an interesting documentary about the working poor in Japan:

Japan: A story of love and hate

According to this documentary, one sad statistic is that about 30,000 Japanese commit suicide every year due to mental stress.


'I promise to behave and be quiet.'

Since the Islamic month of fasting started on August 22, husband has been bringing daughter to the mosque for night prayers regularly.

I am too tired nowadays to go anywhere after dinner, so I just stay home and go to bed before they come home.

Daughter has been reminded repeatedly not to disturb others who are praying, and yet she will run around and talk loudly in the mosque.

Husband always tell daughter to behave but she just continue her usual routine whenever husband is praying. Last night the Imam spoke to daughter about keeping quiet in the mosque, and miraculously, she listened to him.

I guess it's kind of true that your own kids listen to others more than they listen to you.


Cooking Spur

Yesterday evening I spent about 2 hours in the kitchen to prepare dinner.

This was certainly a rare occasion because I rarely do so. Usually I am in the kitchen for only 15-30 minutes to prepare any meal. I don't know why but it's like suddenly I got inspired to put some effort into preparing a variety of food for my family. I thought I better dive right into cooking when I am motivated to do so. Too bad I didn't take any pictures because I was too hungry to do so.

First I pan fried a fish for husband and daughter. Although I cannot stand the smell of fish, I did so because they love to eat this dish.

Then I used the breadmachine to make Kaya Jam with 1 cup sugar, 1 cup coconut milk, 4 eggs and 15 Pandan leaves, which took about 1 hour.

While waiting for the Kaya to be ready, I prepared Thai Spring Roll from a Thai cookbook 'Quick and Easy Thai Cuisine: Lemon Grass Cookbook'.

Ingredients: 4 servings
2 Tbsp oil
1 tsp minced garlic
2 cup shredded celery
2 cup shredded carrot
3 Tbsp fish sauce
2 Tbsp sugar
1/8 tsp white pepper
1 egg yolk, beaten (to seal wrappers)
12 spring roll wrappers

I also prepared Mee Goreng, Indian fried noodle, even though I cooked rice. I got the recipe from 'Joy of Cooking: Local Delights (Nan Yang Xiao Chi)'

1 tomato, cut into wedges
200g fresh yellow noodles/whole grain spaghetti
30g bean sprouts (scalded)
1 boiled potato (skinned, and cubed)
50g bean curd cake (cubed, deep-fried till golden)
1 egg
1 chilli (sliced)

1 tbsp tomato sauce
1/2 tbsp curry powder
1 tsp light soy sauce

Somehow I felt so much better when I ate the Kaya with butter on toasted bread. It almost brought me back to my time in Singapore. I guess this is what comfort food is all about.

I am so looking forward to bringing a jar of homemade Kaya to my dear sister, nephew and niece in Ohio.


September 08, 2009

Cumin Seeds for Morning Sickness

Sr. Nor told me that in India, pregnant women chew cumin seeds to reduce/eliminate gas in the stomach. She said that it worked very well for her during her three pregnancies.

According to this web site, here are other home remedies for morning sickness:
- any non-carbonated syrup
- fresh ginger root
- cloves, cinnamon or cardamon
- slippery elm, red raspberry
- apple cider vinegar
- wheatgerm with milk

According to this web site, cumin seeds

'... is rich in iron, is very useful as an antiseptic or for digestive disorders. They also boost the power of the liver.

Cumin can help with indigestion, diarrhoea, nausea and morning sickness, If you boil one teaspoon of seeds in one glass of water and mix with salt and a teaspoon of coriander leaf juice and have it everyday.

Cumin also helps to relieve the symptoms of the common cold due to its antiseptic properties. If you have sore throat, add some ginger to cumin seed water and have it whole day till it sooth your throat.

It is also a good ointment before boils. Make a paste of black cumin seeds with water and apply to the affected area.

It is also a great tonic for our body, even if you don’t have any specific ailment. It increases heat in the body thus making metabolism more efficient.'

In undeveloped countries, I am sure that there are folk remedies that people use for certain health ailments. I will have to ask my mother for traditional folk remedies from China since my grandparents immigrated from China to Singapore in the early 20th century.


September 03, 2009

Autumn is coming!

All praise be to Allah SWT the weather has turned cooler since last week.

To be fasting in Texas under extreme heat is really no joking matter. I have not stepped out of the apartment when the temperature is above 95 degree F. So now that average temperature is around 90, at least I get to water the plants in the cool mornings.