Just not good enough…

Whenever my missus and I go out in the morning, we would stop by somewhere for lunch or brunch, usually some place new so we can give it a try to see if there is anything worth coming back for. That way, we would not need to rush home to cook lunch and later in the day, we can just whip up something simple for dinner.

People keep saying that the economy is not good but lately, there are more and more eating places sprouting out all over town like mushrooms after the rain. The sad fact is that most of these, or at least those that I have tried, aren’t really worth the calories, not at all. Everybody seems to think that they can cook…but sadly, many don’t. What they dish out are often not nice at all…and the worst is more often than not, they add a lot of msg which really pisses me off. In other words, they are just not good enough to make me want to go back again for more. Like the other day, for instance, I dropped by this place again as I heard that they sell pork leg rice…

PLR

…and I wanted to give it a try. I had their Foochow-style fried noodles before and I thought they were pretty good.

However, I did not quite like how they did it – my missus does it a lot better, never mind whether it is phak lor – braised/stewed with soy sauce and five spice powder or just simply cooked with garlic and soy sauce…and on top of that, what I got in the bowl was mostly fat and one trotter…

PL

…so there was hardly anything to eat and in the end, I just had to make do with drowning the rice with the sauce and having it like that. If I remember correctly, the set, inclusive of rice, cost RM5.00 and if this is what they have to offer, I would much sooner go for something else. My missus had the kampua noodles, tossed in chili sauce the way she likes it, and she said it was good but I did not try.

And just the other day, I went here for lunch and I asked for the nasi lemak special….

Sg Merah Food Court nasi lemak special

…from one of the Malay stalls in the so-called food court. The sambal was awesome, the fried chicken was very nicely done and even the complimentary soup was so very tasty…but look at the egg! It was so miserably overdone and can you see how oily it  was? And if you scrutinise it a little bit more closely, you would see all the black spots on it – goodness gracious me, they did not wash the wok or the pan clean before use or what? Now, as if that was not bad enough, when I tried the rice, there was absolutely no hint of santan (coconut milk) in it, not at all – now that’s no nasi lemak, that’s plain rice!!! I don’t know whether that is how how they usually do it but if they had run out of the rice, they should have told me so and I could have opted to have the nasi campur instead. Serving plain rice and hoping to pass it off as nasi lemak is without doubt an obvious attempt to deceive, to cheat! Tsk! Tsk! That would be the first and the last time I would eat anything from the stall, you can bet on that!

Well, I know that they always say self-praise is no praise but I do think that what I cook myself at home is a lot nicer…most of the time, at least. Like, the other morning, there was a bit of rice left so I decided to fry that with tempoyak (fermented durian)…

TFR

…to see if it was any good.

It wasn’t anything fancy. I just fried one shallot and two cloves of garlic, both sliced thinly, in a little bit of oil before adding a handful of ikan bilis (dried anchovies) and once all of them had turned golden brown, I added the tempoyak before adding the rice followed by my missus’ pounded chili…and towards the end, I added an egg. When that was cooked, I dished it all out and served.

There wasn’t that much leftover rice that morning so I cut some tauhu pok (fried bean curd) that I found in the fridge into bits and threw that in as well…

TFR

Hmmm…I certainly liked it a lot and personally, I thought it was nicer than the dabai fried rice that I used to cook before and I did not have to add any salt or msg as the ikan bilis would make it salty enough and the flavours of all the ingredients used were more than enough to make it taste great, unlike what I seem to find when eating out these days – an overdose of the white stuff in whatever they dish out.

I sure would love to cook it this way again but perhaps, I would add a bit more ingredients the next time around – some prawns perhaps, a stalk or two of serai (lemon grass) and curry leaves plus chopped spring onions or daun sup (Chinese celery). That would definitely serve to enhance the taste and bring it to a whole new level, I’m sure.

Then, on another day, there was some more leftover rice in the fridge so I dished out this plate of cincaluk fried rice…

CFR1

Again, this was so simple to cook – I just go about it the usual way starting off with frying one shallot and two cloves of garlic, sliced till golden brown and then I added a handful of ikan bilis (dried anchovies) followed by the rice and mixed thoroughly before adding the cincaluk (fermented shrimps) and a spoonful of my missus’ pounded chili and lastly, in went the egg…

CFR2

The cincaluk and the ikan bilis would be salty enough so again, there is no need to add any more salt and the flavours of all the ingredients would be enough to make the dish tasty and here too, no msg is added…

CFR3

I could have added some very thinly-sliced long beans if there had been any in the fridge and that would make it a complete meal in itself – carbs, veg and protein, all in one.

Another dish that I got to cook recently was this sour and spicy tom yum bamboo clams…

TYBC

- the clams had been sitting in the freezer since Chinese New Year so I thought I should quickly cook them and get them out of the way…while they were still good. I just heated up a teaspoon of oil in the wok to fry two slices of ginger till brown and then I removed them and threw them  away. Sometimes, if you keep ginger in the sauce or soup, especially if you simmer it, the end result may get a bit too gingery and will not be to my liking – I’m not that great a fan of ginger. Then I fried the serai (lemon grass) a bit before adding water followed by a spoonful of tom yum paste – I usually used the bottled ones, Nona Brand. Then, I threw in the clams, shell removed as I find it a hassle to have to do that when eating and besides, from past experiences, I found that bits of the shell may break off and one would need to be extra careful when eating. Lastly, the tomato, cut into chunks and the curry leaves were thrown it. I let it simmer for a while and that was it! Easy as A B C! And again, there was no need for any salt nor msg.

Frankly, seeing that the prices of things keep going up and what I am getting outside just isn’t good enough, I think I might as well cook some simple stuff on my own and eat at home more often – it may not necessarily be cheaper, depending on what I cook…but it definitely is healthier and a whole lot nicer. What do you all think?

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21 thoughts on “Just not good enough…

  1. Oh Tom Yum! love that, didn’t add in lime juice and fish sauce?

    It’s very sour and salty enough – I think they’re all in the instant paste. I did not cook from scratch.

  2. sadly when staying in my university that’s the type of fried egg i have to make do with for lunch and dinner every single day! +1 to the fried rice! do you have a name for the fried rice? haha

    Ya, I do see a lot of that all over. Really, how can they set up a food business when they cannot even fry and egg properly?

  3. I truly believe that you are a better cook and chef than many restaurant cooks outside… That cincaluk fried rice attracted my attention as it is something new and I love cincaluk!
    I am lousy at detecting dishes that have been laced with too much MSG. How to detect!? Thirsty?

    Maybe you eat it so often, you do not feel it at all. Thirsty is one. I get this lingering taste of it in the mouth for a long time and maybe it’s my imagination but at times, I even can feel the crystals exploding! Serious cases – you will feel numbness on your face. They say leave a glass of Coke standing to let the gas escape and drink…and you’ll be ok.

  4. Ever thinking of opening up ur own makan place? Suituapui’s Food Court or something? :)

    Sigh!!! Too old for that now – just want to relax and enjoy my retirement and eat to my heart’s content. No need to look at me – the name alone would probably scare a lot of people away, you think? Muahahahahaha!!!!

  5. Yea sometimes cooking at home is cheaper. But kinda hard also to cook for two persons . Portion too small might as well no need fire up the stove..portion too big ..cannot finish pulak

    Can reduce ingredients in recipe mah…and take short cuts – not worth heating up oil to fry two or three drumsticks, bake in oven, also nice…or use HCP. Tak kan lah follow standard recipes and procedures – like my missus – used to cooking for 6 persons in her family. That is why we have to eat leftovers for days and days… :(

  6. Cooking at home is healthier, but like what Kathy mention, two person, hard to cook, cook too much, can’t finish, wasted…

    Can estimate – like if cooking chicken, one person how many pieces, throw in an extra piece or two just in case…if fish too big, cook half. Not a problem – just need to adapt according to how many people one is cooking for. Cannot follow fixed recipes all the time.

  7. Grrrr, not very healthy, pork leg meat, too fattty & fried egg, too oily. Bamboo clams, I like it fried with curry powder. Nom!!!…Nom!!!…

    That’s how they all do it at the eating places outside – I did that once too but I think this tom yam version is very much nicer. Plus you get the sauce/soup to drown your rice and eat, so very nice…something like my masak kunyit fish or prawns. Yum! Yum!

  8. I havent tried bamboo clams before… yes, better to take off the shells so that can wash them too before cooking.. the normal clams here have mud inside so if not careful, the soup will turn muddy too… :) Next time I must try frying rice with cincaluk but then those sold here, I wonder whether they are suitable for frying rice?

    Should be but VERY salty…and not so “wangi” as the Bintulu ones. Come, come…bring home a bottle! ;) Clams, lots of sand inside…but these that I bought, they washed already…probably imported from Sabah, packed nicely 1 kg in a box. A bit salty, maybe they added salt to preserve. Must rinse well.

  9. I frankly think that there is nothing wrong with self-praise :) I mean look at the dishes that you whipped up. Though I can’t taste it, I know they are good! I agree that there are lots and lots of eateries opening up everywhere but the ones that stand out are few and far between. There are also a few that don’t even last for 1 year.

    Ya…but some do last for quite a while which makes me wonder about people’s tastes. Obviously one man’s meat is another man’s poison, to each his own.

  10. At first glance of your topic I’m wondering why you said not good enough when the all the food looks delicious but then I realise that you’re talking about prices too :D

    Happy Sunday yo.
    http://www.theokayarms.com/

    Nope, I am actually talking about the food served, not the prices – the pork leg rice and the nasi lemak. You too, have a nice day.

  11. I rarely eat out, since I guess I can be hard to please with what how I think things should be prepared. It’s a good thing, I enjoy cooking at home, right? :)

    Yes, same here. I do enjoy cooking too…especially when what I dish out turns to be really great. ;)

  12. i think your home cooking definitely rivals the food you eat outside, thanks to your long experience and skilful creativity as a home chef :D the cincaluk fried rice looks mighty fine

    Come back and see what’s in tomorrow’s post. It is really good!!! ;)

  13. Whenever I have home cook food at home- balanced meals my body feels satisfied, has fewer cravings and prevents late-night snacking.
    If I eat out, I will snack in the middle of the night.

    So best to eat at home, right? ;)

  14. Nasi lemak sambal good? Yum, i should try that see is it good, beside than the complain on the rice.

    Tom yum soup, my favourite too!!

    Nice, but they gave only a bit – have to ask for more. The rice was hopeless leh. I would never want to eat there again, not nasi lemak – that’s for sure. :(

  15. Tom yum! Yum yum! Just staring at a bowl of Tom yum makes me drool!
    Yes, certainly cooking at home is healthier…and more economical. I try to cook at home as much as possible. I certainly would cook on weekdays and eat out once on weekends. 😉
    But cooking at home is quite a challenge for me because of three different diet requirements. 😕

    Gosh!!! We’re fine – usually, we would have what my daughter loves…and we’d go out for things we can’t/don’t cook ourselves….or just for a change once in a while.

  16. Pingback: It’s not easy being green… | ...Still crazy after all these years!

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