Monday, August 25, 2008

Soups and Desserts and Dragon Too

I haven't gone missing though I've been quite busy. I was in and out of Penang and doing stuff I wouldn't normally do.

You can see what I was busy about if you read this - which is over at my regular blog.

Anyway, I am back in Penang already. And super excited because I bought myself a new recipe book on Chinese soups (Cooking with Chinese Herbs: New Edition with 20 Additiional Recipes) by Terry Tan for RM60, a book which I'd been eyeing greedily this year. *grinning like a Cheshire cat*

I am glad I waited because I won a book voucher from Popular Bookstore recently and I used that voucher to redeem this book. Did this yesterday when I was on a book browsing spree at Popular Midlands (they're having a book sale of up to 20%). I said spree because I spent close to RM200 buying books and magazines.

Now Terry Tan is not a new author. I'd seen his books before and one of his recipe books was published in 1983! Now that's what I call a long time cook and author. This new recipe book is a rework of some older book with an additional 20 recipes.

What I particularly liked about Terry's cookbook is his book is well organised. I like organised minds because I'm fastidious too. I don't like messy recipe books where the recipes have no particular order!

Terry groups this Chinese soups into various categories such as one-pot meals, sweet soups, etc. This would definitely help me decide what soup to create on any given day.

I would be testing out a few of his soups as the instructions are simple, clear and there's at most 4 to 5 ingredients for each soup. His personality shone through too in this cookbook - unlike some dry textbook recipe copy which doesn't inspire one at all.

Speaking of soups and sweet soups, I was in Pavilion KL's Dragon-i Restaurant with my parents and aunt for lunch last week. For those who don't know, Dragon-i is a chain of sumptuous Shanghainese restaurants started in 2004 by a smart Singaporean woman. Only 4 years but what a runaway success.

The decor is in dark red and brown with lots of mirrors and subdued lighting. It's classy and sensual. They probably made kitchen work sexy too judging by the crowds who peer into the glass kitchen, watching chefs in action, making pau and tiny dim sum! I wonder if these chefs feel like animals in a zoo!

It occurred to me that we have a Dragon-i here in Queensbay Penang but I was never tempted to go try its famous 'xiao long pau' (steamed meat dumplings). Maybe I got scared of the crowds outside the restaurant. People lined up outside the restaurant to get into Dragon-i here in Penang. The thing with me is, I get freaked out if I see crowds. I won't go where the masses go because it will be noisy and dining can be chaotic.

Anyway, their xiao long pau is indeed the most heavenly stuff money can buy. But that's not it... we ordered dessert soups right after we had our meal and those where really what I enjoyed, sweet though they were! (My Dad who is now extremely careful about the amount of sugar and sodium he consumes, asked the waitress to add more water to his sweet hasma dessert. It was THAT sweet.) I had the same dessert and yes, it was terribly sweet! The hasma came in generous portion though.At RM 12, it sure beat making this dessert on your own at home. Hasma comes from snow frogs and one has to pick out the grit and stuff from the hasma (shuet kap in Cantonese), aka cleaned properly before it can be double-boiled.

My aunt had a lovely stewed pear with bitter and sweet almonds, while Mom tried the water chestnut and sea coconut dessert.


I'll be back soon with an easy papaya snow fungus dessert which I made for my mum the week that I was back home in Banting.
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