Category Archives: Sherry Eats

Tasting love: “Ice Kacang Puppy Love”

When it comes to the best one plus one, Baba Nyona — the mix of Chinese and Malaysian culture, cuisine is a hard one to beat. In addition to an impressive long list of Mee (see previous post), there are also an array of delicate, colorful sweet rice cakes Kuih for dessert.

Traditional "Kuih" (image credit: Hotel Armada/kuali.com)

Traditional “Kuih” (image credit: Hotel Armada/kuali.com)

The word Kuih(粿)came from the Chinese, but the Nyona version incorporates local ingredients such as coconut milk and pandan leaves. Coconut milk adds an exotic sweetness and pandan leaves, a herbaceous tropical plant with long green leaves commonly found throughout Southeast Asia, lend a unique taste and aroma to the foods. And when used in cakes and desserts, padan paste turns the sweets vivid green.

From layered pink-and-white Kuih Lapis to dual-layered Seri Muka (padan custard on top, steamed glutinous rice on the bottom) to tube-shaped Kuih Ketayap (pandan crepe wrapped around dark brown coconut filling), these chewy, bite-sized snacks will make you think twice about dismissing glutinous rice.

Another must-try is Cendol, a drinkable, soup-like dessert that soaks green jelly noodles (the green color comes from pandan paste) in coconut milk and palm sugar.

But all in all, my ultimate favorite dessert is red bean shaved ice. Known as Ice (Ais) Red Bean (Kachang) in Penang, and ABC (Ais Batu Campur or mixed ice) in the remaining Malaysia, the dish comprises of shaved ice topped with brown sugar syrup, red beans, various types of jelly and other dressings like ice cream or corn kernels.

My fondness for the dessert derives not from taste (because frankly, this version pales in comparison to Taiwanese-style shaved ice), but sentimentality for the 2010 romantic comedy “Ice Kachang Puppy Love” (《初戀紅豆冰》).

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Best of Penang Street Food Fest, Mee Mee Mee

Malaysia’s richness, whether it’s food, dialect or culture, derives from the intermingle of different ethnic groups, predominantly the Malay, Chinese and Indians. In Penang, where Chinese immigrants dominate,  food is further enriched by the marriage of Chinese and Malaysian cultures (known s babas and nyonas), literally and metaphorically.

Best of Penang street food (image credit: misstamchiak.com)

To get a glimpse of the awesomeness of one (Chinese) plus one (Malay) is more than two, just go through the list of noodle dishes the city has to offer:  Continue reading

First sip of Penang: OldTown White, OldTown Nan Yang

As of Monday, 9:00pm, New York weather read:

Temperature: 12°C (54°F)
Precipitation: 36%
Humidity: 95%
Wind 12mph

I felt the humidity without consulting the weather app, for one, my hair was damp and frizzy. But I relished the wetness as it reminded me of my one-month Southeast Asia trip, starting with Malaysia (Chinese New Year in Penang, Malaysia).

Arrival, Kuala Lumpur

January 31, 2011: Kuala Lumpur

The photo on the left was taken when I landed in Kuala Lumpur, after a 5+ hour flight from Seoul. From here I would take a connecting flight to Penang. Groggy, tired yet exhilarated (I am here), I stepped into the humid dawn. It was 5:17am and drizzling. The air smelled pregnant, full of water. My pores gulped the wet air. I hate to be overly dramatic, but at that moment, I thought, “Ah, rejuvenation. I am once again in a humid country where 10 years down the line, Forever young, I will be forever young…” (“Forever Young” video link).

I was, after all, born in Taiwan and a firm believer that staying hydrated is the ultimate youth serum.

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Grilled cheese and ham sandwich Frenchified: Croque Monsieur

Life is unfair in a lot of ways. For one, all cultures are not obsessed equally, especially the French. From accent to fashion to even their women (see Mireille Guiliano’s French Women Don’t Get Fat), even a simple grilled ham and cheese sandwich seems that much tastier and worthy of the hefty $16 when it’s called Croque Monsieur (pronounced crock ma-seur). 

Literally translated to “fried mister,” the rustic yet elegant snack is a staple for the French and sold in most cafe, bistro, brasserie and even as frozen food in France. The iconically French dish is nothing more than “a hot sandwich, made of 2 slices of buttered bread with crusts removed, filled with thin slices of Gruyère cheese and a slice of lean ham,” according to Larousse Gastronomique.

From Burette, la croque madame (image credit: fancy.com)

From Burette, la croque madame (image credit: fancy.com)\

A ham and cheese is a “Mr” (croque monsieur) and a ham and cheese topped with an egg is a “Madame” (croque madame). While the treat can be replicated at home, nothing beats a a visit to the 50-seat, French-inspired Buvette in West Village.

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The “Grom” persuasion of ice cream

The seemingly contradictory logic of eating spicy food in hot weather is actually not as weird as it may read. In fact, some of the fiery dishes come from places that are hot, like Southeast Asia and India. The reason is simple, spicy foods make you sweat, and sweating cools you down (read more about the science behind sweating).

In light of such knowledge, I believe it makes sense to reverse the logic and eat ice cream in winter. And the best lick comes from Grom, the artisanal gelato from Italy.

(image credit: Grom)

My favorite is the house classic, crema di Grom, which consists of pastry cream, Columbian chocolate chips and meliga (aka corn) cookies. The treat is incomplete without a healthy dollop of homemade whipped cream. Grom’s version, unlike store bought whipped cream that is sweet and lacking in cream flavor, tastes richer, denser.

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A healthier lifestyle, starting, with plant eating (dirt included)

With new year, comes new year resolutions. Chinese New Year, which falls on a Thursday (February 19) this year, is no exception. Prepare to kick of the year with a more healthful, greener eating from Spot Dessert Bar.

The potted plant, aka “Harvest” from Spot Dessert Bar (image credit: Serious Eats)

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“It’s very French, macarons and tea”

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There is something very sexy about the way French say the word “macaron” (pronounced mack-ah-ROHN). The heavily accented syllables roll off the tongue lazily, a little slurred yet unmistakably delicious. The experience of biting into a macaron – two shells made with egg white and almond flour laced with ganache (a mixture of cream and chocolate), is simply delightful. It is crunchy yet smooth, airy yet lingering, and most definitely heavenly when paired with a good cup of tea. Indulge yourself with this delicious treat at Chantal Guillon in Palo Alto.

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Girls’ Best Friend: teas and cakes

The best way to catch up with a girlfriend or girlfriends is over a cup of tea and cakes. Supposedly the practice of entertaining with “tea and a walk with in the fields,” aka afternoon tea, started in early nineteenth century Britian  by Anna, the 7th Duchess of Bedford.

Afternoon Tea

Prior to the introduction of tea, the English had two main meals — breakfast and dinner (dinner was served around eight o’clock). The Duchess was said to have complained of “having that sinking feeling” at about four o’clock in the afternoon. Her solution was a pot of tea and a light snack. Later, she invited her friends to join her. The practice proved to be so popular that the other social hostesses quickly picked up the idea.

Join the fashionable society for your sip of tea. Below, a list of recommendations.

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