Wednesday 21 November 2012

Quick Microwave Fix : Salmon Bone with Brown Rice

My life as a bachelor, I've learn a lot from being independent. When I was studying in college, all I had was a rice cooker. There wasn't a stove or fridge at the student house I was staying, so I had to improvise with what I have. My rice cooker was my only tool to boiling pastas, rice, porridge, maggi mee and etc. It was really my "One-Pot-Wonder". Mind you, it was my mom's old National brand rice cooker; as old as me. So you could imagine how durable it was. 

Nowadays with the advancement of technology, we have access to tools that can cook with just using the microwave. Gone are the days when microwave are just used to heat up food.

Cooking for one person can be quite a hassle to fire up the pan and waste cooking gas. So sometimes I would resort to the alternative. I've always been experimenting with what sort "real meals" I could conjure up with microwave cooking; besides the usual instant noodles. So this is one of them.

Salmon bones. Pre cut from the supermarket.
The other day I was experimenting with one of my own dishes of Salmon bones cooked with brown rice. A simple dish that is easy to make and probably good for carbo loading (as long as keeping the high fat condiments in check)

Salmon is one of my favourite fish to cook. But usually a block of salmon is quite pricey. Recently I've discovered from Ben's Supermarket that they sell the Salmon bones; basically remanence cut off from the fish. Usually used for deep frying or making fish stock, I was wondering what else I could make out of it. I've picked a pack that has a good balance of fish meat, bone and fat content.  I will throw them in the freezer until I find the time I need them.

Brown Rice soaked overnight.
The preparation is fairly simple. One cup of brown rice is needed; enough to make 2 bowls. I love brown rice since it has a lower GI content. Soaking it overnight is preferable. Skipping this step is fine but takes a little longer to cook and may not have that fluffiness outcome at the end. For this, I soaked them in the morning before I go to work. When I return home to cook, I will wash out the soaked rice and prep it.

Here in a nutshell the ingredients:
1. One cup of Brown Rice (soaked overnight) - equivalent to 2 bowls of rice after.
2. 2-3 cups of water
3. Salmon bones (with a good balance of meat, bones & fat) ; roughly cut about 1-2 inches block size.
4. Salt & Pepper
5. 1 teaspoon of olive oil. (not too much as you will get some good fat content from the fish)
6. Dry herbs (Parsley used)

All the ingredients in microwaveable bowl. 
 Basically that's it. Throw all the ingredients into a microwaveable bowl and cover. Heat at Medium/High for first 15 minutes. Then remove it, give it a stir and check the consistency. I prefer mine to be a bit wet and sticky, so I add in a bit more water. Back into the microwave for another 15 minutes.

The results.
 Immediately serve while still hot. I carefully separated out the fish and added a bit of Japanese soy sauce (basically Kikoman). To finish off, topped the rice with some sesame seeds and a side of spicy fermented beancurd.

The finished product. Ready to serve. 
There you have it. A bachelor meal for one on a cold, rainy night. Enough to fill a hungry tummy.

Sunday 18 November 2012

The Love of Cooking & Homemade Beef Patty Summer Wrap

Friends who has known me long enough knows that I LOVE eating and I LOVE cooking. Most of the time, most would comment that moi would be constantly have his mouth chewing on something or asking when is eating time. It's true. I constantly have an appetite for food. 

Sometimes when I feel stressed after work, I will hide myself in a supermarket!

Friends also have been complaining that I'm always cooking for myself and posting pictures of my culinary "masterpieces"online but not a single invitation for "food tasting".

To be honest, I'm SHY.

Me and so many others, are more or less self-taught "chefs". I've learned mostly from my grandma and mom during my young age. First experience, tumbuk chili paste with a mortar and pestle. I grew up watching Wok with Yan & Kuali too and I was seriously hooked.

I see my cooking style as a little bit of everything; but mostly rustic. I DO have an unorthodox method of food preparation and I do sometime put in certain ingredients that doesn't belong. That is why sometimes I'm afraid to share in fear that I would be "criticized" by foodies.

But after much pestering, I think I shall post out something a little "safe". Taking inspiration from Tri Stupe's recipe of Homemade Burger; but with a few tweaks of my own. 

First of all, the main thing to get is minced beef. 

Fresh Australian minced beef. The main ingredient. 
 Fresh Australian minced beef is not cheap. The pack I got was about 450 grams and it cost at about RM17++. That's the thing about shopping at Ben's where everything is quite pricey.

Vegemite & Blackstrap Molasses.
The next main ingredients are Vegemite and Blackstrap molasses.The molasses idea came from Tri Stupe and I've been experimenting with this ingredient for a few dishes. A brilliant alternative/substitute for sugar or honey.  Love the taste of it. It has a slight after taste of sweetness on a beef patty through it's cooked juices. The Vegemite is an additional ingredient of mine since I love the taste of it. Brings a little earthiness taste to the meat.

All the ingredients put in a bowl. 
 In a nutshell, here are the ingredients thrown into the mix.

1. Australian Minced beef (450g). A bit of oily fat from the meat is preferable. Good enough to make 12-13 patties.
2. One tablespoon of Blackstrap Molasses. (previous experiment used 3 tablespoons; too much and "burned" out colour)
3. One tablespoon of Vegemite. (personal preference - just love the earthy taste)
4. Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
5. Half of a large yellow onion. Bronoise (meaning chopped) into dice. Too add a bit of bite and crunch to the patty.
6. Homegrown Dry Basil. (Yes, I specially ordered Homegrown dry basil from mother's friend who grows, dry and pound her own dry herbs.)
7. Salt and pepper to taste
8. Balsamic Vinegar ( A few dashes)
9. Sesame seeds.
10. An egg. As a binding agent to bind the ingredients together and give it a more thicker consistency. 2 egg whites can be used too if concern about yolk. You can use a bit a flour but I prefer eggs instead.

Adding in sesame seeds last into the mix.
The patty all mixed and ready to be rested.
All the ingredients are all mixed in a large bowl and let it sit for a few hours.  

Meat patty quenelle into a football shape with 2 spoons.
 Once ready to cook, set non-stick pan on low heat. In the meantime, prepare you patty "shapes". You can always do the traditional flat shape but I always preferred the small football shape; almost like a cutlet. Use 2 tablespoons to scoop the patty and quenelle the patty into a football size shape. This method is usually used for sorbets and ice cream but works well with anything with this sort of consistency.

Pan fry low with NO oil.
 Place each patty on the pan and NO oil is required. Just make sure the pan is a non-stick coating one. Oil from the fat and olive oil will secrete from the patty. Make sure both sides are cooked but not to overcooked it till dry.

Insides of cooked patty.
 The other reason why I cooked them in this shape is to have a slight crispy burned outer skin but also have the insides cooked with it's own juices. The outcome is a luscious burst of sweet, earthy flavours from within. Great accompanied with red wine or spicy relish.

Pan fried Onions (julienned) and sear some fresh tomatoes. 
 Once all the patties are done, the pan will leave some residue of burned up molasses and oil. Do not let it go to waste and continue to fry it with the remaining balance of the half chopped onion (julienned it) and sear some fresh tomatoes with it.

A nice sunny side up to be added to the plate.
And now, all is pretty much done. For serving, I've decided to do a summer wrap by using huge Iceberg lettuce leave that I've found. Just another alternative besides sandwiching it with bread.

Spread the green over a plate flat and douse with a sprinkle of olive oil & Malt vinegar (balsamic is alright too). Lay the cooked patty together with a sunny side up egg, the julienned onions, seared tomatoes and topped with a spicy cranberry relish and sesame seeds.

Spicy cranberry relish. Bought from a supermarket. A bit pricey but very delicious.
The final product!
Finally, time to eat! You can use the lettuce to warp everything up. I prefer to serve and eat it by means of "deconstruction". Meaning to eat and taste it as separate components but still able to make out the final outcome of taste. 
Meat dipped into the runny egg and relish. 
 I love runny eggs as well. The meat dipped into the egg with some relish is just delicious! Told you I was unorthodox.

So there you have it. My first recipe/ cooking experiment posted online. Crossing fingers the scrutiny wouldn't be terrible. I'm still learning. ;)

Wednesday 14 November 2012

Brooks PureDrift (Men) Unboxing Review

You know how excited I get every time I get a new pair of shoes. I can self proclaim myself as a Imelda wannabe judging from the shoes I have. I lost count (actually I could, but it's just plain scary). No I don't have any shoe fetish. Don't get any ideas. ;)

The good people of Brooks Malaysia recently selected a few individuals (runners/bloggers) to give a test drive on the new Brooks PureDrift. How can I say "NO". I can't turn down shoes, u  know....

This is just a quick review from the unboxing and merely a review on the aesthetics and the technology behind the shoes. An in-depth review will be up as soon as I give them a few more trial runs.

Get it? The "UN-BOX-ING".
Hello there! What have we got here?
 When I first receive the shoes, my first reaction I got was "Wait, this box can't be this light?". The box was unbelievably light, almost as if it was empty.

Opening the box reveals a bright yellow pair of shoes. So majestic, so royal, so ME!

Yes, I do have a thing for funky colour shoes. I usually like something that is out of the norm.

Brooks PureDrift revealed! A thing of beauty.
 The shoes were extremely light upon holding it. Even holding it feels like a glove. The Brooks PureDrift would be the lightest shoe in the current existing Pure Project range. It weights only 5.6 ounces. It's a new addition on top of the existing Pure Connect, Pure Flow, Pure Cadence & Pure Grit. PureDrift would be launching in early 2013 (that is January 2013) under the Pure Project 2 line.

Let's look through and see up close on the PureDrift.

The PureDrift logo on the back of the shoe.
Features the Ideal Heel for a more secure lift off and support on every foot strike. 
Features 2 split toes for a more natural lift off.
The 2nd split is on the lateral side of the shoe for a more natural feel.
Close up of the tongue. Features a one piece tongue so that it wraps around the feet like a glove. A Navi band further secures the foot for more natural support. 
Side view of shoe sees a more curvier outsole to mimic the feet natural shape when running.
Outsole is made with the same Biomogo DNA material for adaptable cushioning. 
A close up view of the tongue with the PureDrift logo and featuring the P2 (Pure Project 2)
A slightly wider toe space to adapt weather you are wearing it with or without socks.
Shoe is made with a breathable mesh for comfort.
Bottom sole of shoe.
If you look hard enough it's shape like a human feet.
So there you go with the technical aspect of the shoes, but wait... there is more!

Here is something that I wouldn't had expected from a running shoe. PureDrift is designed in such a way that the runner can customized it accordingly to their running needs. The runner can either use the PureDrift with or without the insole. By default with the insole, the runner will feel a 4mm drop giving it a minimalistic feel to the wearer. By removing the insole, the runner will feel a 0mm drop and every strike will be closer to the ground. That is like running barefoot (almost). Let's have a look.

With the insoles intact. 
Insoles removed. Very lightweight. Comfy too.
All the components spread out.
I've been asked if once the insole is taken off, wouldn't the structure of the shoe change and in turn become loose for the wearer? Not really. Because of it's glove like design and one piece tongue, removing the insole is not an issue. It would still give the wearer a secure feel as it wraps around the feet like a glove. The breathable mesh is not a rigid material and very flexible. It still works the same with or without socks.

All in all, it's an impressive looking shoe. I've tried on with or without the insoles and with or without socks.

Look at that sexay beast!
I will write more about the PureDrift once I've given it a few more trial runs. I've given it a spin a few times and I'm pretty impressed. I would say it's a shoe worth looking at for those transitioning towards a more minimalistic lightweight shoe.

ps:/ I've also a user of a Vibram Fivefingers KSO and the barefoot feel is definitely (almost) identical to the PureDrift. More about that in my next entry. :)

Wednesday 7 November 2012

Great Eastern Live Great Run 2012 - Running on homeground

Just over the weekend, The Great Eastern Live Great Run 2012 just took place. If this sounds familiar, it's actually quite like the Great Eastern Women's Run in Singapore. In our country, all gender mesti participate. ;)

Held at Martrade and route around the Dutamas area, the Dutamas Runners gang was of course pretty excited about it. After all, this IS our training ground. So when registration started, we quickly did it in a jiffy. 

The DR gang early bird registration : From left Seng Chor, Kenny and myself. Sequential numbers!
So you could imagine Seng Chor, Kenny and myself were quite surprised when our bib numbers were running sequential numbers. Talk about being kiasu! (ps: actually we didn't know we registered at the same time and it's purely coincidental.) 

I was pretty excited the day before but I tried to get as much rest as possible. I told myself not to get overly excited like other races where I loose sleep over it. For once, I decided that I should skip my compression wear and GU gels this time round. Probably didn't need it for a short race and not wanting to rely on it so much. 

The main stage area and gathering point.
Morning started out early as I calmly left the house and head to the venue. It was a short drive since I stay nearby. Already there was a large crowd of people slowly swamping into Martrade.

Clockwise from top : (1)The official photographers and photog buddies - Jason, Darren & John "Katak" Ling, (2)Sue Leng , (3)Part of the setup team - Winnie & Grislle , (4) Crystal & Alex.
 After leaving my bag at the baggage counter, I was ready to do some warm ups. Not before I met up with some of the guys along the way. Pleasantly surprised was to see Jason and John "Katak" Ling (my photog buddies). They were part of the official photographer team covering the event. I made sure they take my photos and checked where they were positioned at the run.

Walking towards the startline, met up with the setup gang that I've worked with during the recent We Run KL 2012. They have been working since the day before and they were still pretty energetic. Great job!

The startline already crowded.
I'm usually quite kiasu when heading towards any startline. I prefer to be close to the start rather than start at the back. From previous experiences, this was to avoid zig-zagging slower runners after the gun off. 

From top left to bottom : (1)My DR buddy - Kenny G , (2) Therese of Hivelocity, (3) The Real Ho & Weng Woo, (4) DR gang - Raymond T. (5) The ever fast, Edan Syah, (6) The Forever Young - Uncle Oli, (7) The ever fit - Herny. (8) Mrs. Moey of Ton Ton, (9) Michelle Eves as bike marshal
Being 30 minutes early before gun off, I'm bound to always bump into friends inside or outside the pit. Since I was in a "Korean" mode, I kept calling everyone Oppa (which soon I found out was a wrong term to use on anyone. Apparently only young girls can use it on slightly older guys). How embarrassing. (-_-)||

While inside the pit, I kept my legs moving so I don't cool down too much. Must keep the heart rate pumping. The gun off was delayed by 6 minutes, which felt quite like an eternity. The crowd began to feel anxious and the emcees were trying to keep everyone occupied with some music and some activities. I was beginning to feel worried as the sky is getting brighter and the sun rays can be quite glaring at some parts of the route.

Once the gun was off, I wasted no time overtaking as much runners as possible but conserving energy at the same time. I'm mentally prepared as I know what waits before me - hills, hills and more HILLS!

Bumping and over taking Sharon.
The first 2km was pretty easy as the road was going downhill. Loads of runners were speeding through. Part of me wants to go with them but I stayed with an easy pace. I need to conserve energy for the later parts.

Clear skies! After 3km mark heading towards Publika.
As expected, the glaring sunrise!
Capt overtook me around the 4km marker. I thought he was at the front being that he is part of the "elite". More added pressure as he encourage me to push. We were pretty close to each other for about a kilometer before he sped off. I had to slow down a bit (as expected) cause of the glaring morning sun. Even with my sunnies on, my eyes were squinting.

Next up was the turn heading towards Hartamas. This is the part that I started to speed up.

If this was the scene of "Sound of Music", better start singing "The hills are ALIVE....." cause this is where the terror begins. Jalan Sri Hartamas is a popular road for runners doing their training run. It's famous for it's continuous ascends and descents. KM6-KM9 is gonna be FUN!

First obstacle course - Climbing over Water Barricade.
 Arrival at Plaza Damas is greeted with the first obstacle course : Climbing over 2 walls of water barricades. If you are wondering, this is kept with the organizers theme of "Over coming obstacles in life". How fitting. It was pretty easy actually but somehow I saw some people cheating by bypassing them.

Made up a bit of time as I quickly jumped over the barricades as many were struggling. I need to quickly make it downhill and make a U-turn to catch up.

The rest of the route is pretty much straight forward. After the U-turn, the route was in reverse and we need to head back towards the finishing line.

Running pass the infamous coloured wall structure outside Publika. 1.5km to go!
 The last 1.5km I really pushed hard. Basically because I was hungry! A couple of hills and we were back at Martrade again. About 200M to the finishing, one more obstacle course to go.

CG guarding the last obstacle.
The last obstacle - Zig zagging through a "maze".
The last obstacle was a "maze" (or the lack of one). A quick left-right-left and you're out of it. A good and fun addition but could be further improved next year. The team of supporters (including CG) were at the obstacle course giving support and encouragement to every runner.

Out of the maze, a quick turn to the left and the finishing line is just a shot away. I quickly blast through the finishing and was very happy with my timing. At the same time, I was cringing cause the DJ decided to blast a certain "Gangam" song when I crossed it. Happy nonetheless. ;)

Ever cheerful Jolene. 
Walked through the welfare area to collect my finisher medal and was greeted by the ever cheerful Jolene. Dun play play. She has done more FM that I did.

After collecting the goodie bag and a quick change, it's time to meet up with friends at the staging area and finishing line.

From left : Yin Yin, Gilbert , Tan Wah Sing and me.
Cute little boy helping out to pass Tau Hueh for the participants.
Such a joyful sight to see young ones helping out.
With Ultra-Marathoner Frank Chong of Running Lab Malaysia.
Jason was so busy snapping away that he wasn't aware that I was calling him. Well, he needs to do his job.
Closing to the finishing line, Kenny G & David.
Showing off our sequential bib numbering. Except Capt's bib number was a bit later.

It was Uncle Oli's birthday, so I decided to do an impromptu birthday song for him. Please don't mind my suara sumbang la cause I can't sing properly for dear life. Happy Birthday Uncle Oliver. Stay forever young and continue to inspire! (ps: Uncle Oli does Full Marathons and Ultra-Marathons! No words can expressed how incredible his feats are). 

Top Podium Finishers.
Edan pointing out his winning results.
Group photo with all podium winners and the GE team. 
Mr & Mrs. Moey. Congrats to Moey on his 4th placing in the Men's Junior Veteran Category.
Congratulations to Mr. Tan Wah Sing on his 3rd placing in Men's Senior Veteran Category.
Edan and his 3rd placing mantle. Congratulations Edan!
A quick pic with the fastest Human Snail. Amazing costume bro!
All in all it was a great event and I honestly can say I enjoyed it very much. I'm sure many would agree. Everything was very well organized.

Later I found out that I did a personal PB for 5km by shaving off 3 minutes! I'm so glad. :)

Here are some breakdown points:

Pros :
1. Sufficient water stations and the sponging station was an additional bonus.
2. Excellent route with obstacle courses.
3. Race venue was huge and catered well with more than 5,000 people.
4. Finisher Medal - One of the best I've received. Very solid and well made.
5. Volunteers and support team were helpful in all areas.

Cons (not really but if I had to nitpick) :
1. Gun off should be on time. Not a big issue for me as long it's not delayed too long.
2. Obstacle courses could be more challenging. Always room for improvement.
3. Suggested parking areas may seemed a bit far from venue but a good warm up before the run.

The organizers definitely did well in this event considering this is the first one done by Great Eastern Malaysia. If ever there is a Live Great Run 2013, count me in! :)

The awesome looking and solid finisher Medal for Live Great Run 2012.

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