While durian is the king of fruit, and we are well familiar with the different type of avocados, many of us may not be aware of the little hidden gem from the smallest state in Malaysia when it comes to tropical fruits – the harum manis mangoes from Perlis.
Haram Manis, or Harumanis, literally translate to aromatic & sweet, which also perfectly describe the characteristics of these mangoes in its simplest form. The mango has a distinctive shape, quite round, plum, and have a small pointed rear.
The fruit is meaty with a rather thin seed in the middle, almost devoid of those pesky fibers, making it very smooth, silky, and even milky in texture. It also tastes very sweet with almost no hint of sourness typical of normal mangoes, yet carries a strong mango fragrance that rewards the senses in every bite. It is simply the best mango I’ve ever tried.
With such accolades & relative small production (only one season per year) from the smallest state in Malaysia, these fruits don’t come cheap. They’re usually sold around RM 100 for a lot of 3kg (2021 price), which you can expect about 5-6 fruits.
The box itself stated the time/date of harvest, with the expected date for best consumption as well. Follow that, or wait until you can smell the aroma beaming out from the fruits itself before cutting them up, you won’t regret.
I had this box shipped to me by my brother who works in Perlis, awesome fruit gift! Thanks bro! Nowadays you can get them from many online retailers shipped basically to anywhere in Malaysia.
What are some of your favorite local fruits that are less “popular”?
Having a big seafood spread doesn’t always mean a huge preparation and cooking time. If you have an oven in the kitchen, here’s a quick and simple way of conjuring up a seafood spread that is not only delicious, but also very simple to make.
Here is my way of exploiting this seafood bounty in under half an hour. Here I use fish, prawns, and squid, but you can also easily add clams or even crabs in the mix. While I use barramundi (siakap) here, the type of fish is also replaceable.
Steamed chicken is perhaps one of the easiest to prepare and even faster to cook dishes at home, especially if you have a pressure cooker. Today, I’m going to share my way of way of conjuring up this with only a few minutes of prep time and another 10 minutes of waiting while it cooks.
I use chicken thigh in this dish for its texture, you can easily use other parts of the poultry for the same recipe too. Most ingredients are replaceable, but I would suggest keeping ginger to ensure a slightly more “fresh” tasting result.
Anyway, here goes the recipe.
Ingredients (main dish):
The result is a dish you can prepare within 20 minutes, just about time the rice cooker takes to prepare that steamed rice to go with the chicken. There will also be some soup on the bottom of the dish resulting from the steaming process, the soup will taste a hint of chicken essence, simply marvelous. Try it!
Earlier in the year, I went to one of Port Klang’s more famous non bak kut teh places and had myself some very satisfying Hainanense food at Cathay Hailam Kopitiam, and it was then I was informed that there is another very similar hidden jam offering similar experience right by Klang town (shorter by 15-20 mins distance wise) by the name of Laoyang Klang Coffee.
Laoyang is located at the end of Jalan Kapar close to Klang town, a stone’s throw away opposite from the famous New Boston restaurant that serves some of the best steamed lala in all of Klang Valley.
We went to Laoyang on a Saturday morning after a run (when dine in was allowed during this pandemic.. gah). Got a parking spot right outside the restaurant itself since this part of town isn’t usually terribly busy, especially on a weekend when surrounding shops are closed for business.
The restaurant has a very simple set up, a bit of hipster vibe, but one on a budget. Then again, we’re here to eat and not really hanging out.
The menu is a two page affair but with enough choices to satisfy most people (see below). Here you’ll find the classics such as Hainan mee, pork chop, chicken chop, and various types of nasi lemak. There’s also a few types of charcoal toasted bread and a choice of beverage not dissimilar from the usual kopitiam offerings.
For the two of us, we started off with toast bread with kaya & butter (RM 3.50). Crispy on the outside, fluffy inside, sweet, aromatic kaya, and butter that could be perhaps a little bit bigger in portion, but it was good, especially with their excellent kopi-c that I ordered.
The nasi lemak kosong we had turned out to be a revelation. While you can order it with fried chicken, ayam masak merah, or even sambal ayam, if that’s what fancies you.
The rice was fragrant, but what I really love was their sambal. Finally, a super spicy version that is not overly sweet, in fact, not sweet at all. I will come back here just for their nasi lemak for sure.
Of course, we also tried their classic Hainanese chicken chop. While I find the version at Cathay perhaps a little bit more special, this one held its own, it had all the necessary ingredient and tasted the way it should, which was a mixture of sweetness with umami taste that lets you know it is just a little bit sinful, but in a good way.
After a little over five years of having the wooden deck by the pool & pond side (pic from 5 years ago here), it was time for a bit of a revamp. The biggest reason for this exercise was that while wood used for the deck was of adequate quality (merbau wood), the contractor had used normal iron nails which started to rust in and damaged part of the deck, resulting in perhaps some 5-10% of wood rot via nail rust.
I was debating a plan replace the rotted out wooden pieces initially, but ultimately chose the path of replacing the deck in its entirety with solid granite tiles instead.
The biggest advantage of going with tiles is that it would be a permanent solution, and furthermore, there was a sales at Nero Granite of 30% off regular price last December.
First course of action was to remove the wooden decks. This proved to be great cardio & strength workout that lasted for many weeks.
Merbau wood is rather heavy and dense. I bought a crowbar for this purpose and developed some calluses on my palm in the process. Some of the better looking wood pieces are kept for future projects (wooden bench, garden planter etc). Nails would have to be removed but I’ll sort that out at a later point.
Then came the granite tiles. I made careful calculation with excel sheets and bought pretty much the precise number of tiles required.
At the end though it proved to be too much since there’s already a round of tiles around the pool and we decided to reuse them. This made ripping those out unnecessary, reducing the risk of damaging the fiber glass pool, and I sorta like the outline of pool having a different color anyway.
After procuring the granite, I procured construction aggregate and sand to be used as base. Started out with a scoop each (closer to 1 meter cube per bobcat scoop), and eventually guesstimate somewhat correctly that 2.5 scoop each was required.
The idea is to use aggregate as base to provide strength and sand as the top layer for laying the tiles. I avoid having to cement the tiles as this will allow for more margin of error, and flexibility in the future.
For the area surrounding the fish pond though, the tiles were glued on with “Vital Nails”. This prevents the tiles from slipping into the pond. I also used some of the off cuts to pave around the pond to lift it a little higher, matching the level of poolside. Original wooden filter cover & water outlet box for pond are re-used, breaking monotonous look of the granite, plus reducing some work scope.
Cutting tiles proved to be quite a challenging task. I bought a BOSCH cutter for this purpose, together with way too many diamond cutting discs. These discs don’t last very long thanks to the thick, tough granite and the dry cut method (the tool won’t allow wet cut).
Measure twice, cut once! I only ended up messing up maybe 2 different cuts thanks to blunt blades, but ultimately was able to salvage those tiles as well.
The trickier cuts were around the metal fencing poles, but with a bit of careful measurement and a lot of patience, they turned out looking pretty neat, and immensely satisfying.
Now, onto the next project!