Friday, 6 November 2015

ep02 : FALLING IN LOBster

Finally it's done. This episode, i cooked a live lobster for the first time. And as they say, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. I myself probably ate lobster less than 5 times in my lifetime, it took some time to process such an experience. It tasted ok that day, but as I started editing the video, flashbacks of us stuffing our faces with the roll really got me craving for lobster. I would say the meat itself is rather subtle, but in a cholesterolly luxurious way. The Lobster Indo Mee packs a punch, damn..... I'm hungry again.

Here is my cameraman Annas aka DukeoftheCrow, who said he was only willing to pay RM 60 for my lobster roll. He paid RM 150++ for this crabstick. Never judge a book by it's cover, so never pick restaurants based on their insta pictures. Don't ask me how Tinder works. Anyways enjoy the video, and do try this recipe if you wanna get laid. Works everytime.

Monday, 2 November 2015

R.AGE Food Fight Finale : KISS AND TELL

I'm sure by now, dear readers you would have heard that I have lost again, that's three in a row.  For f**k sake I'm so good at losing I'll be joining THE BIGGEST LOSER ASIA. Anyways, I'm not happy at all as i was really looking forward to a new vacuum packer, but waking up instead with a sore an*s was quite the opposite.  The Chef Wan clone won, yawn yawn, now let's get down to the juicy bits. 

Behind the perfect make-up and the neat tartlets, I don't think many can imagine the terror we contestants have to brave ourselves through that day.  Kelly showed signs of cracking as we all start prepping around 0630 am.  She hasn't slept for days due to her singing and Halloween parties.  Worried that she did not bring a kitchen timer, she "accidentally borrowed" mine.  I'm not here to name and shame, but to show you how real the instinct to survive can be. 

A brief story when someone else's instinct to survive got them in hot water: during my Masterchef days, I got quite close to a character named Hafeez. When the time was up, his cupcakes were still raw, he plated 2 of the 5 he baked and left the rest in the oven. There was a break and upon returning for judging, the residual heat from the oven has cooked the cupcakes inside it. In a split second, he made the ill decision to swap his cupcakes. Word travelled to the production team and he was eliminated that very same day. I cried for the first time on TV that day because my cupcakes was the worst and I should have been the one to go. Still hate baking, i don't like measuring endless lists of stuff okay!

No one likes to be the first to go as it is a gamble, wading blind into uncharted territory. Nuril is a happy go lucky kind of dude and took it in his chin like a man. Afterwards I can see he is distressed, wondering if he could have done better if he had the feedback from other contestants. As he paced around the kitchen cursing at the lifeless ulam, I wondered if the stress has finally crept up on him. One thing we have in common is the neurotic need to be the best. As dorky (when you do meet him) as he may seem, I saw how fierce a competitor this chap is. However good a snake charmer he is, I'm not a cobra. I'm born in the year of the pig Oink Oink.

If there is anything certain in a cooking competition, it is that somebody always cracks. When things go south, under the heat and pressure, the kitchen can be an unforgiving place. 4 hours to make a tuna tartare...... even I didn't expect Ashley to be the chosen one. After our presentation, we were to take turns serving our food to the judges. Somehow Ashley misunderstood the instructions and started dishing up before her time. Her vinaigrette split so her tuna tartare started leaking, making it impossible to mould. She was shaking and couldn't even dot her balsamic. Tissues were everywhere as she desperately tries to stop the bleeding. I don't know when the crying started but 2 chefs began helping her to plate up. I have no idea how everyone felt but I was disgusted and sympathetic: rojak emotions la kan. Someone from the Le Corden Bleu Management had enough conscience to tell the chefs off but the deed was done. After her judging Ashley broke down and polished the cold stainless steel worktop with her tears.

Yes yes, I was once as innocent as Elmo. But I joined a cooking competition with more than 100 grand at stake. RM 100,000.00 ++ @.@ One day we were told to make a very famous french delicacy, complete with chef's instruction and guidance. One contestant was so good at it that he went against the recipe. Hell broke loose and almost everyone failed miserably except for this baking prodigy because he knew what he was doing. Technically he has won that match but nooooo, the organisers felt it was too shameful to show to the public. So the challenge was changed and an Australian delicacy was chosen, again with chef's recipe and guidance. Somehow just as Ashley's Tartare crumbled, the prodigy's Aussie delicacy fell flat. I cried again that day, because my Aussie delicacy was the best and my friend who technically won was discarded just like that. His mistake was not that he failed the second challenge, but to have kept quiet when they asked us all for our approval to change it. It is true what they say, the fear of speaking out is greater than the fear of death. Just look at the state of our politics!

Amongst all this Li-Anne I felt, was the coolest cat. She was still being awkwardly nice to me and that says a lot. Under pressure this gal still has time to smile, laugh and flirt. She even looks like she's having fun?!  Aussies....they do love to have a good time, must be all that sun, beaches, and coral. I too would like to have her swag, but it just hurts too much when people do stab me in the back, I prefer to look for friendship after the shit has hit the fan. Off the record, her video submission was screaming "I got this down bitch!" and I almost gave up after watching it, somehow the idea of writing something funny on a newspaper lured me in. If she gets picked up by TV, she will sell.  Muke boleh jual orang kata.

As for me, my heart sank when I didn't win. I wanted that column badly so I can give Malaysia a piece of my mind. The food was OK, but not as fresh as I wanted it to be, with all the waiting for divas and crying children. The judges sure did me good. They praised me to the skies until my lubang hidung kembang. So when Nuril was crowned, I haven't got the energy left to be paraded around as deputy prime minister. I stood there for the necessary pictures, shook hands, smiled and shot out the door. One brave soul from the camera crew asked me if I'd stay to record my "confessional". I said NO. I don't think you lot would want to learn new swearwords today dear boy. What can I say, sour grapes. I do need to buy that chap a drink.

I was commenting on why KYspeaks was on the judging panel and it struck me there and then that social media has now become so embedded with food celebritism that no aspiring celeb chef can escape the judgemental eyes of public. Everyone can criticise your food, your wardrobe, your sexuality, race, your personal life in general-lah.  Kevin, I do understand that the LGBT community has alot to say but honest to god, i didn't mean to put anything in your mouth with my sorrow. I wish I'm as graceful as Li-Anne but my parents taught me to be #1 all the time, in everything I do. My sincere apologies. I've gotten quite used to internet trolls. Here are some highlights for your entertainment.


Anyways, the big difference I noticed between R.AGE Food Fight and Masterchef Malaysia(MCM) is that R.AGE didn't capitalise on contestant drama, perhaps due to their journalistic background. Whereas MCM is a reality TV show, since they can't show all the swearing and violence the next best thing is people crying and the spicy remarks. The R.AGE team has done a darn good job overall.  Everything went smoothly and disasters averted efficiently.  Their budget is tight but the end product exceeded all my expectations. Until we meet again my gratitude for this opportunity.  I'm pretty sure R.AGE has the potential to grow into something big one day. 

My 2 cents is that, DJ Chef Liang should have directed the show rather than sitting his ass down and judging.  He is the bridge between us cooks and the showbiz machinery, as his title suggests DJ Chef.  Cooking competitions are complex and highly subjective, I was well impressed when he tried to hold up the cooking when he realized there was a delay, this man cared about the food that's going into the judges' mouth.  Alas one man cannot do everything.  Too many talents is a burden, sir.

Finally, I hope you don't think of this entry as a diss track.  I'm sure all the contestants and their fans hate my guts by now.  I wanted it that way because I feel it's too complicated to be friends and compete in this dog-eat-dog business.  Much like sibling rivalry, it's all jolly until you go to therapy. I wrote all these against all sound reasoning because I want to share our side of the story that the media always conveniently forgets to mention.  Life as a celeb-wannabe, hopeful that the grass might be greener on the other side.  Now then, take a look again at this picture, this time read between the lines.  This time try and guess what the chef is thinking.

" These clowns think they are chefs"

Monday, 26 October 2015

R.AGE Food Fight : Bootcamp Ep 2 - Maharaja Bullshit dan student student beliau

Stress betul....... Seminggu lagi dah nak final. Bootcamp kali ini bukan calang-calang orang ok.... anok hagham.... Chef Wan kut ! But before that....

Pagi itu kami dikerah ke kawasan perindustrian somewhere dalam PJ. Cuak gak, takut dah silap tempat, nanti kena sound diva. Nampak ja building nie, dah stim teghuk. Semangat architecture meluap-luap tak terkawal. Celaka Chef Liang, best bapak ahhh restoren dia (Whup Whup nama kedai dia ok checkidout). Bangunan tua nie berwatak zaman art deco (well versi malaysia laaa). Masih segak walaupun berusia, wajahnyah dihiasi tingkap tersusun kemas. Dalamnya macam mana ya ?

Hambik kau! Para penonton yang study architecture mesti dah terhambur dan meleleh segala air liur dan lain-lain. Roof light pelbagai, steel truss kemas, welding dan bolts semua tip top. Structure efficient, steel flange welding cantik. Vent blocks dan exposed conduit. Apa lagi kau nak ! Siap dah tanam pokok. Memang anak bertuah mamat nie, boss kasi gua jual nasi lemak sini boleh ? Apapun kerja menjual diri tetap kena jalan.

OK, Chef Liang dan Producer Lord Elron meminta kami menbentangkan idea untuk rancangan channel youtube sekiranya menang. Lepas tue kami disuruh melakonkan rancangan tersebut di depan kamera. Seperti biasa, apabila dilanda kejutan semua mengelabah seperti lipas kudung.

Yang pertama Chef Nuril. Beliau nak membuat program memasak dengan orang asli, masuk dalam hutan memburu dan memetik sayur liar. Nampak semangat untuk memasak hidangan asli tempatan yang kita dah lupa atau tak pernah jumpa sebab hari-hari mengadap TV tengok show mat salleh dan orang malaysia yang nak jadi mat salleh. Aku rasa boleh jadi, tapi memang kena kerja keras. Masa kecik dulu atuk aku pernah bawak pergi korek ulat sagu. Pokok yang dah tumbang dan mereput, dikopek dengan parang, selut memang sampai ke paha. Bau...... memang auuuummm ! Dah susah susah dapat ulat sagu, masuk mulut aku, ludah keluar. Nak wat canna masa tue aku baru darjah 2.

Seterusnya, Ashley pulak. Beliau bercita-cita nak menyelamatkan dunia dengan membuat kerja amal ala random act of kindness....macam cerita "Pay It Forward" la gitu-gitu. Menolong orang tanpa mengharapkan balasan. Pecah perut kami apabila beliau bercadang nak memasak untuk mat dan minah clubbing. Aku dulu pun giat clubbing, hidup dalam kota yang penuh dengan penipuan, tikam belakang dan ketamakan, aku rasa clubbing tue lebih bermoral dari duduk di kedai kopi dan berpolitik. Memang bagus, kalau dunia ini majoritinya macam Ashley. Tapi bagi aku yang dah terlebih makan asam garam hidup di KL, polemiknya agak cetek dan naif. Apabila aku cuba mengkritik hujah hujah beliau, ada nampak marahnya. Darah muda..... kekadang aku juga inginkan semangat sedemikian, mungkin aku akan lebih bebas.

Li Anne nie nampaknya sangat menyukai Jamie Oliver. Beliau nak membuat rancangan seperti Jamie Oliver di mana ada kebun sendiri, menggunakan sayur sayur species special. Mencari ingredient special seperti mozarella di langkawi (aku dah try....hampeh) Beliau juga nak menerokai hasil ciptaan terbaru dalam dunia masakan, seperti asikrim nasi lemak (aku dah try....kedai tue dah lingkup). Aku lebih suka adegan penyiasatan bahan mentah tempatan. Kenapa kita banyak pakai sayur dari China, Kenapa ikan kita banyak ke Jepun. Kenapa susah sangat nak dapat beras Bario. Sampai bila kita nak mengagungkan keuntungan. Di Itali, wine terbaik disimpan untuk keluarga dan jiran sekampung, wine yang ok dieksport ke luar negara, wine yang taik hantaq ke Mesia. Boleh jadi show yang menarik.

Kelly nie kan penyanyi. So mampusla korang, nie cookshow dia, dia nak menyanyi nak buat acapella, korang jangan complain. Beliau bercadang nak membawa 2 rakan beliau untuk pergi road trip, jalan jalan cari makan sambil beracapella dalam van. 2 ekor watak sampingan nie mestilah tak reti nak masak, maka Kelly akan memberi tunjuk ajar kepada mereka yang jakun. Nama band dia MSG, so nama show dia TRIPPING ON MSG. Kau mampu ? Sapa-sapa yang tak faham "tripping" tue apa cubalah baca kamus.

Aku punya show senang. Aku nak cabar 5 ekor auntie, uncle, nenek atau mertua korang memasak. Kalau tok kau terrer gulai kambing JOM LAWAN, kalau mak kau terrer char kuey teow JOOM LAWAN, kalau kau terrer buat lasagna JOOOOM LAWAN ! Aku buat begini sebab aku rasa menonton resepi orang lain, biasanya orang tak give a F**K sangat pun. Tapi kalau sembang pasal resepi arwak tok dia, resepi keturunan, resepi jiran dia ataupun resepi mak jah, mak tam, auntie Siew, rojak uncle Vicknesh, Kerabu Kak Rosmah, Sotong Pak Jib.....semua berkobar-kobar berapi. So simple! Aku nak orang memasak dari semangat itu. Idea ini aku curik dari si Ramsay dan Chef Adu. Tqs sifu!

Tak sempat nak hembus nafas lepas present aku kena DIAO. Producer bubuh ayat pedas :

 "I never believed in entertainment for the sake of entertainment"

Nasib baik kau Producer ya Lord Elron. Kau ingat aku nie pelawak murahan cetek bagai Paris Hilton. Takperla nanti aku bahas dengan kau. Chef Wan aka Silver Fox aka Emperor of the BS dah sampai kot.


OK, the show has started !



Senang cerita, Chef Wan dalam televisyen sekadar satu versi beliau, yang si editor dan marketing rasa sesuai untuk tontonan khalayak ramai. Sifat sebenar beliau membuat aku terpegun, pecah perut dan kelincahan beliau memang membuat mata aku terlekat. Selama ini aku tak pernah faham karektor beliau dalam rancangan TV, aku ingatkan ianya olok-olok untuk memikat hati penonton. Tapi apabila melihat secara keseluruhan begini, aku nampak sifat beliau bukanlah seorang tukang masak pondan yang mulut laser, tapi seorang tukang masak yang agak "straight forward" dan agak brutal dengan kebenaran. Beliau juga tak takut memberi komen isu isu semasa dan berkongsi cabaran dan liku-piku hidup seorang "selebriti".

Inilah dia, Laksa Nyonya. Tak ada pinggan jubin tandas, tak ada edible flowers, tak ada gulung itu gulung ini. Bebola ikan itu handmade, bukan Chef Wan yang buat, pembantu dia yang buat ; kami diberitahu secara selamba. Itulah gaya beliau yang saya hormati. Selain tue lawak 18SGX beliau memang hebat. Ala satu malaysia pun macam tue sebenaqnya, cuma sesetengah orang terasa dirinya terlalu serius dan tinggi moralnya untuk berlawak jenaka.

"Chef, do you think the Malaysian audience is ready to see this in mainstream media? I know everyone here would want to."

"No, it is just not our culture"

I consider myself lucky that from time to time i do find these hidden gems in the least expected time or place. So here is to a memorable day with a great bunch of peeps.


Tuesday, 20 October 2015


I'm in the finals again.  5 delusional celebrity wannabes all fighting for that bit of cash in a cage match.  It's gonna be a blood bath.  But before that R.AGE has decided to equip us with all the weapons necessary for the final bout.  Off to the bootcamp!

We were sent to Le Cordon Bleu Sunway to be trained by 4 Jedi masters: Chef Rodolph of Le Cordon Bleu, Chef Darren Chin of DC Restaurant, Mr KYspeaks and DJ Chef Liang.  I like that girl on the left, she personally tour guided me to the lift when I was lost in this badly designed building circulation. Also, she put a lot of effort into her pout, unlike Nuril.

Le Cordon Bleu Training Kitchen
First we had a mini cook off in Le Cordon Bleu's very well-equipped kitchen.  There are more stainless steel here than on Optimus Prime.  The kids sure have fun with their combis and ice cream machines. Kitchen hood with fresh air inlet, epoxy floors, hotplate with temperature zones, automated soap dispenser, lesung batu!  I'm so turned on.

Chef Rodolph and our dishes glued on the ceiling.  I think soon you won't see chefs like him anymore: immaculate, crafty, stern and classically trained.  These are the generation of chefs and cooks who did the job to put bread on the table.  They knew not of being a celebrity and talking bullshit.  Yet they gave us the building blocks to do what we do nowadays.  With hipster chefs everywhere trying to be Jamie and Nigella, we must not forget that our success is due to having stood on the shoulder of giants.

After the mini cook-off we had a philosophical chat with Chef Darren Chin.  The man runs DC Restaurant - a hardcore fine dining establishment in TTDI.  I hope to go there myself one day, sometimes food does go beyond re-fueling and fancy photography. Anyways before i rant let's crack on......

Last but not least, KYspeaks gave us a tutorial on how to setup a food blog. His persona on the blog does not hint of such a humble and chilled out dudeness. KY gave us a homework to do which was annoying, so without further ado here it is:


Ashley and her Watermelon Basil Tuna Tartare
Here's Asian Posh Spice.  Having graduated from the Buckingham Palace of Posh she continued the nasty British tradition of taxes at Ernst & Young.  But thank lord she has now found her passion in cooking posh food like extinct fishes and fondants.  Look at her food: its pretty!  its classy!  And for some reason it has to be sprinkled around the plate.

Nuril and his Otak-otak Ikan Merah
Here's Chef Nuril, a funny man from Penang who seems to have inherited a large sum of wealth from FAMA.  Disturbingly over-friendly chap, he is flying the Jawi peranakan flag in Penang, the over-rated foodie state.  You can read all about his adventures with a microscope on his restaurant website.  I won't say much about his dish as you can see it for yourself above: it's clean, it's colourful and it's an expensive piece of fish sporting a green afro.  Well done mate, we must visit Jawi House soon.

Li-Anne with her Cake, rocks, pumpkin and yoghurt ice cream
Spice girls have taken over the world.  This is Australian Sporty Spice.  She is from the down unda and have made yoghurt ice cream.  Now i don't have a choice but to share this joke about Aussies and yoghurt:

"What is the difference between an Aussie and Yoghurt?  Only one of them has culture in it."


Anyways Li-Anne made dessert.  It's pretty and it's made from sugar, palm oil and more sugar with some random vegetable or fruit.  I think the yoghurt has culture and sugar.  How can anyone say no, not even Jaymay Oliver.

Kelly and her Prawn and pineapple chutney starter
This is Kelly, she also has hair disability.  Kelly is a tall doctor, a tall singer, a tall chef and someone please give her a nobel prize already.  Kelly made a starter of 2 prawns and stuff sprinkled around the plate.  It's the law of physics: if you eat like Kelly you will have nice slim figure too Hong... I hoovered up everything in a wink. Delish! 

Me and my... stuff
This is me.  I went to the gym before cooking.  Everyone told me my portion is abnormal. Well they are not fat and I need a diet plan.  I made roasted chicken with coconut gravy, long beans and rice.  No, they are open... my eyes are open ok..... they're just small.  I think my food was ok, i just need to sprinkle some sex appeal on it to keep the camera happy. More homework......

Chef Liang helping out and not afraid getting his hands dirty despite his stylish outfit
Anyways, BIG UP to R.AGE for planning and sorting everything out.  Especially to Chef Liang and Clarissa.  Mr Liang was working like a COMMI saving lives while Clarissa as usual has to attend to our many tantrums and inappropriate behaviour.  RESPECT.


Monday, 19 October 2015


We filmed the lobster episode last week. Having joined the R.AGE cooking competition I'm a bit behind on the editing. Anyways here's a teaser trailer to whet your appetite. Vegetarians look away !

Double Fried Ayam Goreng Kunyit [R.AGE Food Fight]

The following is an article submitted to STAR newspaper's R.AGE Food Fight competition 

I grew up not knowing turmeric.  I didn’t even know it was in all those legendary curries my mother used to make: her chicken curry left to intensify in the fridge, her masak hitam served with buttered bread.  It was mad decadence.  It was how I experienced my childhood.

My mother is worth at least a michelin star.  Even today she wakes up around 4 am so as to arrive at the market before the rest of the herd.  She would have a chat with her chicken supplier and inspect their prized corn fed chicken.  These are not the butchers of the market who mainly sells defrosted chicken, but small farmers or amateurs who happen to rear some chicks. Once a beautiful bird is selected,  my mother would hold it up high as if it was a great discovery.  Then she’s off to find what’s best in the market and plan her menu around it.  I now understand her enthusiasm, she grew up in a farm and they slaughtered their own poultry and planted their own vegetables. They ate fresh, organic and only what was in season because there was no other option.

I sometimes get caught up in nostalgia and struggle to live in the present. Cooking back then and now is very different mainly due to the pace of life in capitalist Malaysia.  Going to the market everyday is only for the rich housewives or their maids.  The average Joe probably doesn’t know how to slaughter a chicken or choose a ripe fruit.  But that doesn’t mean we eat less well.  We can now get food from anywhere imaginable to us.  Be it a hamburger, sushi, french truffles or even soft serve ice cream shaped like a massive dildo from Korea.

I was lucky enough to study abroad for seven years.  And it took me about 4 years to learn to navigate a world so foreign to me.  As an outsider, I opened my eyes for the first time and saw how food is deeply rooted in culture.  It is something nurtured over time and have practical relevance to its consumers. I often find myself most excited by common daily meals.  A proper dirty fry-up with black pudding, pie and mushy peas, chips with vinegar, a big fat pasty, welsh lamb cawl, coronation sandwich or something as simple as apples with Stilton.  For a few years I drowned myself in Britannia and felt closer to understanding them through the simple act of eating.

Once a Malaysian friend came to visit me in Cardiff and one of the girls made ayam goreng kunyit for lunch.  Chicken, salt and turmeric powder quickly mixed and deep-fried.  The chicken was fried to hell, but it was good.  I ate it all including the bits of bones brittle due to over-frying.  There it was, something from home in tangible form.  It tasted good, but more importantly it opened a gate in my brain and flooded me with extreme emotion.  I was deeply moved.  My then-future-girlfriend was too. That has been the only fried chicken she liked since.  Three ingredients and in wintery Cardiff, it was familiar yet new – it was an old memory experienced in a new context, much like van Gogh seeing that bright southern France sunlight.

So when I was asked to record myself cooking a dish using palm oil, ayam goreng kunyit came to mind.  In Malaysia we eat a lot of fried stuff simple because it is too delicious and palm oil is partly responsible for this.  It is relatively cheap, clean and has a smoking point of around 230°C.  On average fried food is normally cooked around 180°C and when you deep-fry, you would need a lot of oil to minimize the temperature drop.

Spatchcock, brining, drying, double frying.

I decided to spatchcock a whole chicken so I can get it all done in a single fry, as opposed to frying the brown (thighs, drumsticks and wings) and white meat (breasts) separately as they require different treatment.  By flattening out the chicken, the cooking time can be reduced and it doesn’t dry out that easily.

I then brined it in a salt and sugar solution for 24 hours before rubbing turmeric oil and drying the bird in a fridge for another 24-48 hours, much like how Chinese restaurants prepare their roasts.

After all that tedious process I deep-fried the chicken in palm oil at around 120°C for 15-20 minutes.  The low temperature decreases the drying out and also avoids burnt meat.  The best way to know when you are done cooking is to get a meat probe, or any thermometer than you can poke the chicken with. Now, if you’ve bought a really good chicken from a good butcher I would stop at 60°C.  You would end up with a pink bone ala Hainan chicken rice and super moist meat.  But for normal circumstances 70°C means it’s cooked and above 80°C the chicken is probably screwed.

Prior to the deep-frying, you can infuse the oil with herbs like curry leaves, serai or rosemary and garlic.  But I find it only works well for huge quantities.  I prefer to just flash fry the herbs until it’s crunchy and sprinkle it later on.

While the chicken is resting, the oil temperature was jacked up to around 200°C.  When the oil is ready, I deep-fried the chicken again for another 3-4 minutes or as long as I dare to get that extra crunch.  It was drained and set aside to rest for another 20 minutes.

This dish can be served with whatever dip you can think of: sambal belacan, hipster seaweed mayonnaise, kicap cili padi, cincaluk, or just ketchup.  With a bowl of rice and some local vegetables, you have a sure winner.  Until my nxt blogpost I’ll sign off with something you often hear in Malaysia:

“Ayam goreng kena ratah ramai-ramai baru sedap beb!”