Saturday, December 27, 2008

‘Lucky’ wild boars a tourism sensation - Star

Dec 27, 2008 By RASLAN BAHAROM

AN Indian temple near Zenith Park in Taiping has turned into a night safari of sorts, attracting hundreds of visitors nightly.

The star attraction is not some prized animals but wild boars which temple visitors claim are bringing them good luck.

Although aggressive by nature, the animals seem to have become quite domesticated and are allowing visitors to caress them.

Some visitors claim to have struck a small fortune at four-digit outlets while others claim that sufferers of incurable illnesses have been cured after stroking the animals.

Visitors stroking the wild boars for good luck.

Temple volunteer N. Mogan, 45, said ever since the wild boars began frequenting the fringes of the temple in April, the number of nightly visitors had swelled especially on weekends and public holidays.

The boars usually turn up at the temple grounds when the bells toll to mark the time for evening prayers at about 7.30pm.

“Previously only a few wild boars turned up but lately, it is common to see about 30 of them,” says Mogan, a tow truck driver.

Star attraction: These wild boars are a major draw for visitors from as far as Singapore and Taiwan.

He often goes to the temple in the daytime to cook the boars’ favourite meal — rice with canned sardines.

“We don’t charge the visitors any fee but those who want to donate can buy the cooked rice at RM1 per packet to feed the animals,” he said.

The collection was for the temple’s coffers, he said.

He said some visitors came back to offer donations to the temple after their wishes were fulfilled.

Some even came in chartered buses from as far away as Singapore and Thailand.

Mogan making broth with sardines for visitors to feed the boars at a fee.

“We have also received visits by priests from Thailand,” he added.

Mogan said so far, no one had been gored by the animals as most of the boars appeared to have adapted to human presence

After a hearty meal, some of the young animals do take a nap before heading back to their jungle hideout before dawn.

Mogan said the temple had not received any complaints about the presence of the wild boars.

A nearby temple is also cashing in on the sensation by charging RM2 for each vehicle parked within its compound.

Perak Department of Wildlife and National Parks director Shabrina Mohd Shariff said the department would look into the issue once a public complaint was lodged.

“If there is a complaint, I will send my officers there to investigate,” she said. Although wild boars were protected species, she said the department did issue hunting licences 14A (for hunting of game animals) and 19A (for consumption, medicinal purposes or selling of game animals) as there was an “over-population” of wild boars in Perak.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Mum’s recipes draw the crowd - Star


THE first thing that diners notice about the Special Butterworth Curry Mee at Lemon Grass Cafe & Restaurant is its pale, milky soup.

One cannot help but wonder if the curry mee is hot enough as the dish offered at other outlets is usually a striking red colour.

As if reading our minds, restaurant owner Desmond Teoh passed us a small jar of chilli paste and said: “Add this into the soup. Put more if you want your curry mee to be spicier.”

The Special Butterworth Curry Mee is served with a small jar of chilli paste for diners to adjust the spiciness to their own taste.

The colour of the soup changed instantly as we stirred the paste into the bowl.

The flavourful and aromatic mee, laden with a healthy amount of prawns, tofu pok, long beans, squid and cockles, is a special recipe of Teoh’s mum Ng Nga.

Because of her passion for cooking, Ng opened a coffee shop in Butterworth about five years ago where she served her special curry mee.

“Making the paste alone takes almost half a day. I grind shallots, chillies, garlic and other ingredients together and fry the mixture for hours.

“I’ve also cut down on the amount of santan used in the soup,” Ng, who is in her 60s, said.

A taste of Penang fare: Assam Laksa (top) and Butterworth Special Fried Rice

The dish was a hit in Butterworth and six months ago, Teoh decided to bring the dish to the Klang Valley, along with Assam Laksa, Butterworth Special Fried Rice, Sambal Udang Rice with Boiled Ladies’ Finger and Lobak.

“I have brought Penang here!” he quipped.

Some of the ingredients are brought from Penang to ensure the quality.

“We found that some things here just don’t taste the same; one example is the belacan used in our Butterworth Special Fried Rice.

“We tried the local belacan but still felt that the Penang product smells much nicer,” Teoh said.

Ng is now in stationed in Lemon Grass, where she helps out with the daily running of the restaurant.

As she is very particular about the freshness of the ingredients, customers need not worry about the strong fishy smell of the Assam Laksa.

Packs a wallop: The Sambal Udang Rice with Boiled Ladies Finger uses only springy fresh prawns.

“Unlike some who use canned fish, we use fresh ikan kembong from the market,” Teoh said.

The cooked-to-order Sambal Udang Rice with Boiled Ladies Finger caters for diners who crave for hot food.

The springy prawns, coated with the spicy sambal sauce, were not too harsh on the palate, but beware, they left a burning sensation in the stomach.

The slightly sweet Lobak, with bits of vegetables in it, makes a good side dish.

“To make sure that the Lobak is tender, we use only chicken drumstick to make it,” Teoh said.

While desserts like green and red bean soup are in the dessert section of the menu, it is the Kaya Butter Char Kuey that makes an interesting option.

The yau char kuay (Chinese crullers), drizzled with butter, is served with a dollop of kaya.

Set lunch, priced below RM8.50, is also available, with over 10 choices that include Hokkien Mee, Seafood Sang Mee and Lala Fried Meehoon.

LEMON GRASS CAFE & RESTAURANT, 41, Jalan Vanilla Anggerik X31/X, Kota Kemuning, Shah Alam (Tel: 03-5122 4128). Business hours: Daily, 11.30am to 9.30pm. Closed on Wed. Pork-free.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Thunder soup - Star


MY grand-aunt used to cook this Hakka dish called Lui Cha or Thunder Soup for me when I was a little girl. Now that I am overseas, I would like to learn how to cook it for my family. – Loo Yen Peng

Try this recipe for thunder.

The array of accompaniments that goes into Lui Cha.

Lui Cha

* 4 pieces firm bean curd (tau kon), diced
* 100g dried shrimps, soaked, rinsed and chopped
* 200g sweet potato leaves, finely shredded
* 200g long beans, diced
* 200g onion, diced
* 200g dried radish (choy po), soaked for 20–25 minutes, minced
* 150g sweet bean curd (thim fu chok), shredded
* 200g leek
* 2–3 tbsp oil
* 2–3 tbsp sesame oil

(For the soup)

* 250g polygonum leaves
* 80g mint leaves
* 1 tbsp green tea leaves
* 250ml superior soup stock


* ½ tsp chicken stock granules
* ½ tsp salt

Deep-fry bean curd in hot oil until fragrant. Drain well.

Heat oil and sesame oil in a clean wok and fry shrimps until fragrant and crispy. Dish out and set aside. Add a little more oil and sesame oil to the wok and stir-fry the rest of the ingredients separately. Toss and fry until fragrant. Dish out and put into separate bowls.

To prepare the soup: Blend polygonum leaves, mint leaves and tea leaves in a food processor, adding a little boiled water gradually. Pour in superior stock to mix and blend for a minute. Pour out the blended ingredients into a non-stick saucepan. Bring to a low simmering boil for a while.

To serve: Put a ladleful of hot cooked rice into a serving bowl. Top with a little of each of the prepared ingredients. Pour over 2 tablespoons of soup. Serve immediately.

MY son loves pasta carbonara. Can you share with me a recipe for this dish? – Mrs Ariana Leong

Here’s one for your boy.

Pasta Carbonara spaghetti with bacon slices and parmesan cheese.

Pasta Carbonara

* 300g spaghetti
* 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
* 3 cloves garlic, crushed
* 5 rashers bacon, chopped
* 300ml fresh milk
* 2 eggs
* ½ cup grated Parmesan


* 3 stalks spring onion, chopped
* 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

Cook spaghetti in a pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Heat olive oil in a non-stick saucepan and sauté garlic and bacon until golden and fragrant.

Beat eggs and milk until well combined. Drain the pasta and put back into the saucepan. Add milk and egg mixture and toss well. Transfer garlic and bacon mixture to the spaghetti. Add Parmesan and mix in garnishes. Season with salt and pepper. Dish out and serve immediately.

MY children have taken to having barbecue parties at home and they love to roast potatoes over the pit. What are the ways to do it well? – Magdelene Teoh

Here’s how you can have your potatoes done BBQ-style.

Baked potatoes, crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.

BBQ Potatoes

* 4-5 large potatoes
* 2-2½ tbsp olive oil
* Some mayonnaise, cheese, sour cream, butter or tuna as a filling
* A large piece of tin foil

Wash the potatoes well and prick with a sharp knife, then brush with olive oil. Wrap the potatoes in foil. Put the packet on the barbecue pit for about 1–1½ hours. Turn occasionally then unwrap the packet and make a cross-cut through the potatoes.

Serve as an accompaniment to your barbecue meat or seafood. Spoon sour cream, mayonnaise, cheese, tuna or butter on the top of the potatoes.

Happy hours chicken rice at RM2 - NST

IPOH: Dec 9, 2008 By Jaspal

Just visit Tan Leong Hin's chicken rice stall at the junction of Jalan Ali Pitchay and Jalan Yang Kalsom here to get a plate for RM2.
Tan sells his chicken rice at RM2 per plate or packet from 4pm to 6pm daily.

"I don't make a profit selling chicken at RM2, but neither do I make a loss.

"I think this is what people call a win-win situation. I keep my customers and they enjoy cheap food for a certain period every day."

The 33-year-old starts his business at 10am but sells his chicken rice at RM2.50.
"Every businessman needs to make a profit, but not too much, and not now when more people are eating at home because of the economic downturn."

Tan, helped by his Vietnamese girlfriend, Tran Ngu-yen, 25, said the RM2 plate contained the same portion as the RM2.50 plate.

"Tarak kurang punya. Tak mahu tipu sama orang (Same portions. I do not cheat anyone)."

Before moving to Jalan Yang Kalsom, he sold chicken rice at several spots here and sometimes sold it at RM2.80.

He moved to the present location for a larger customer base and was able to reduce his price to RM2.50 during peak hours.

He said he enjoyed brisk business, selling between 20 and 30 birds daily.

"Before moving to Jalan Yang Kalsom, I sold only 10 chickens a day.

"Since moving here, business has been good.

"I could have still charged RM2.80, considering that other chicken rice sellers in the area charge between RM3 and RM4, but I decided not to make too much profit.

"Ultimately, an affordable price is what customers look for when eating out. So RM2.50 is reasonable."

He can charge RM2 in the evening because he collects the birds from his supplier in Jelapang himself.

"Since I live in Jelapang, I do the collecting myself. This saves me 30 sen per bird, and I also save on fuel costs."

He added that his customers would also buy vegetable dishes, sold at 70 sen per serving, to go with their chicken rice.

However, he said, despite the RM2 price in the evenings, most of his customers visited his stall between 10am and 4pm.

The latecomers are students or elderly folk who either take lunch late or dinner early.

He said he sold eight birds during the discount period, which he dubbed his "happy hours".

One person who enjoys Tan's happy hours is Grace Nandini, a 37-year-old insurance company clerk who has been a regular since the RM2 stall opened eight months ago.

"Where can anyone get chicken rice for RM2 nowadays?

"For me, this is a deal not to be missed.

"I don't mind coming here to eat because it is still fresh compared with some sellers who refrigerate their unsold stock to sell at a higher price the next day."

Grace's sentiment was shared by Hock San, 44, a tow-truck driver who comes to Tan's stall about 5pm because of the nature of his work.

"Since I run around a lot, I drop by to have a bite before moving about again. The RM2 tag is another reason I come here to eat."

Tan hopes to repeat his RM2 chicken rice success by opening another outlet here, and is in discussion with a restaurant owner near the Tasek industrial area to rent a space for his stall.

"I am thinking about the price to charge during peak hours but the RM2 rate will be maintained two hours before closing.

"It helps me to sell everything I have prepared for the day, and I am also providing a way to eat chicken rice at a cheap price.

"I think I am also helping the country," he says with a smile before going back to serving his customers.