Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The five great things about being sick while overseas!!

Oh my gosh!! Yesterday I had the weirdest stomach bug known to man! Henceforth, therefore, I didn't come into Siem Reap to send a message.  I have nothing much to update you on, as I have been sick, but the great news is Tash's mother is arriving in two days, so we will be visiting the temples nearly and I reckon will be giving you some of the best posts yet, with amazing pictures.

What I did notice while I was sick though, is that there are some great advantages to being sick in an Asia country rather than at home.  So I thought, since I have nothing else to share, I may as well share these:

Dan's 5 reasons why being sick overseas is not so bad!

1./ DVD's are much cheaper.  
OK, they are pirated and ok, they rob companies of there rightful income, and ok, its stealing and I wouldn't steal a car, but as the saying goes I would download one if I could.  In the last 36 hours I have watched the first series of V, the first 2 series of the United states of Tara, a full series of Family guy, All of the Young Ones, and Point Break. Good news is all these DVD's cost me about 20 bucks! I'm practically making money!

2./ You make gains on your budgeting!  
While on money, we all know that when you budget money while overseas you usually break it.  Well, a few days with a stomach flu and you're back in the black baby! I have only spent about 30 dollars in 3 days  on water, small meals, and DVD's!

3./  If you have travelling buddies, they can look after you!
This is much more of a novelty that you may imagine!  Once you've moved out of home, unless you are partnered, who looks after you? No one!! But I had DVD's provided for me and all my shopping done! Better yet, I didn't even pay for it!!

4./ Calling in sick is ok!!
If you are volunteering, you need not feel too guilty about not rocking up for work.  Yes, there will be one day without the crazy white guy, but its not as if management can dock your pay and there is no requirement for medical certificates!!

5./  You can have your choice of meals!
I wanted a toasted sandwich for dinner last night,  Ham and Cheese.  Its a great sick snack, because if you are going to throw up, it comes up soft!  Actually, a slight digression on my point, there are a number of foods that are great if you may be throwing up soon be it for stomach bugs, sea sickness, or whatever. You just need to remember that it does in fact need to be able to come up soft, so banana's, Sao's, water crackers, and the like are all good because they don't hurt as much on the up chuck!

Back to my point though, Tash was kind enough to ride into town to get me dinner and the toasted sandwich I got delivered to me was the single best toasted sandwich I think has ever been created, neigh, brought to life, my the hand of man.  In fact, it wasn't technically a sandwich.  It started off as a toasted ham sandwich with, I think, a b├ęchamel sauce (white sauce for lasagne).  Then, they took said toasted sandwich, and rubbed garlic on one side, placed cheese on top, and put it under the grill! It was a mix of a cheese pizza and toasted ham sandwich... AH-MAY-ZING!  And better yet, I didn't throw it up!!

So, tell me, what are your favourite sick moments/foods! Comment below or on Facebook!

Daniel
Follow me on twitter @TheDanFactor

Monday, November 28, 2011

My post - Birthday message!

Hi All,
I had to do a video for this message.  Hope you are all well!! Thanks for all the messages!!



I've started at a new school as of today, but didn't go because I am a bit under the weather.  I'm going to write a post on the work I do this week as long as my wrist gets better!!

Will try to get another post up tomorrow though!!

Daniel
Twitter: TheDanFactor

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Cambodia, Seam Reap: Dinner Part 3: Banana, Coconut and Sago dessert

So, today is my birthday! Therefore, I'm not going to write a massive blog as I'm gonna enjoy my birthday dammit!! So far I have received some lovely messages from home and gone for a ride around the Royal Residence and taken some pictures which I will upload in my next post.

Here is my the dessert I promised you all.  It may not be to everyones taste but I quite enjoyed it and, again, its really simple to make.

Banana Dessert

Cut a large banana in half, then slice down the middle. Cut in half again diagonally.

Boil 2 to 3 cups of water, add 2 dessert spoons of sugar and one ladle of pre cooked sago.  Add the banana and one cup of coconut cream. Simmer until soft (about 15 mins). Add a pinch of salt and mix well.

Banana Coconut and Sago Pudding

This is not my dessert above.  I ripped it from the net as my camera battery had died by the time I got around to finishing.  But you get the idea!!  ENJOY!!

Daniel
Twitter: TheDanFactor

Friday, November 25, 2011

Cambodia, Seam Reap: Dinner Part 2: Khmer Amok and my morning in an orphanage

Today has been a good day.  I got to spend the morning working in a Catholic orphanage run by some lovely nuns.  The children there are awesome, aged from new born to five.  Unfortunately I don't have any good photo's as they nuns don't allow them, unless you donate large wads of cash or its your last day working there after a reasonable period, but I managed to get the photo underneath taken and smuggled out thanks to my partner in crime Johanna from Holland (who coincidently is working there).  The baby never cried the whole time, until we took this photo!! I swear!!! Oh, and obviously when I left because I make THAT much of an impression on people when I meet them for the first time! ;)



The orphanage actually was quite well run, I thought.  The first time I walked in half the children wanted to be picked up and carried for a bit which was nice.  I was consistently walking around lost with a child in each arm while Johanna did the real work and changed some nappies (diapers). But I got used to it and was loving it by the end.  Well, basically all I needed to do was play with children, so I fit in well.  By the time I had finished, I had only been pee'd on twice! Winning!!

Last night for dinner we ate at the night markets and had BBQ again.  One of the children who came to our dinner for homeless children (read here) asked us to buy him some fried rice, which we wouldn't because firstly, we don't want to encourage begging, and secondly, we had plenty of food which we offered him instead (stir fry veggies with rice and calamari).  The little blighter refused it, walked to another table to collect some cans and bottles, scored a cup of soft drink, then promptly came back to enjoy his rice and calamari and soda.  It was quite funny.  The are all very street smart.  I tried to pic a sly on my phone, but it didn't turn out too well.  Here is is anyway!

Urchin with his meal and drink!! 

OK, speaking of dinner, I owe you the main dish - Khmer Amok.  I think most everyone will love this! I was hesitant, because I am not the biggest fan of fish, but this recipe is awesome and Khmer Amok is one of Cambodia's signature dishes!  If you really don't like the idea with fish your can replace with chicken or beef! 

Main Course: Khmer Amok

Spice paste
So, you need to create a base paste for this recipe.  To create the paste you soak 2 dried chilli's in water until soft. Finely slice 2 sticks of lemongrass, a shallot, 2 cloves of garlic, on Kaffir Lime leaf, a finger of turmeric, 1 slice of galingale and the chilli's.  By finely I mean finely. My cook kept telling me to go forever! Whack it into a mortar and go to town on that bad boy with your pestle. Mix in 1 tablespoon of crushed peanuts, 4 dessert spoons of Chilli oil (though this may not be necessary. I was told it wasn't spicy and was purely for the colour when cooking), a dessert spoon of oil, half a teaspoon of shrimp paste and a pinch of salt.  Pestle away!! Pestle until a fine paste.

Khmer Amok
Heat a tablespoon of oil in a pan. Add two dessert spoons of the spice paste and fry, adding one ladle (half a cup or so) of coconut cream. Add half a teaspoon of chicken salt/stock half a teaspoon of sugar, 3 squirts of fish sauce, half a teaspoon of palm sugar and mix.  Add the fish (or substitute). Add a ladle of water and simmer for 3 minutes adding coconut cream or water if need. Add half a sliced onion and a shallot.  Simmer for five minutes until soft.  Add two eggs and and hand flu off spinach or broccoli leaves and mix well.  Serve in Banana leave (if available) and garnish with coconut cream.

Serve with Rice

Khmer Amok


Please try it or leave me a comment to let me know what you thought!! :)

It's my birthday tomorrow, so we'll be having dessert!! :)

Daniel

Follow me on Twitter @TheDanFactor

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Siem Reap, Cambodia: Dinner, Part One: Fresh Spring Rolls

Hello All!
The last two days have been great! I am really settling in to Jimmy's school and I start at another school tomorrow!  So I will be working at Jimmy's school in the evening from 5:00pm til 7:00/8:00pm and another school during the day!  So excited!  Last night half the class gave me hugs as they left! They are SO CUTE!!!  They finish each class with the song "If you're happy and you know it"and a song that goes like "I love you, you love me, were a happy family" I recognise it but I don't know the name!  Anyway, I think Jimmy's school is going to set up a website so I will link you to it when its established!!

After my last blog I got to my class on time, JUST! After teaching children the "ch" sound the night before last I headed to a farewell dinner at a local italian restaurant.  We then went out for a drink and found the local hooker bar which was DISGUSTING!!  It was full of male tourists, mainly old and/or fat guys with local young attractive girls.  It was just gross because you look at the 'couples' and got visuals and I was all like  "EEwwwwwwwwwww".  I tell you what though, if you need a bit of an self esteem boost its a good spot to stop by.  I felt much better about myself and my appearance!  Moreso than when I went to Telethon live!!  Our group were there for 15 seconds, more than enough time, then left and went to X Bar which was much better.  X Bar is opposite the night food stalls and is a roof top venue which offers a nice view over the central pub district of Siem Reap.  Of course, I don't think there are any buildings in down town Siem Reap that are taller than 3 or four stories so you wouldn't call it a sweeping view, but it is nice none the less! :) Drinks are cheap, gin and tonics are $1.50, beers 50c.

The last two mornings I have been woken by one of my neighbours blasting Cambodian music from around 6:00am which has been driving me insane.  Don't get me wrong, I'm all for cultural respect and cultural differences, but I'm also all for not waking up before dark unless I have to!!  Seriously, its starts pre dawn and goes until after dinner and the speaker is right outside my window... We found out it was for a wedding which kinda makes me go "Awwwwww", but then I hear the music which sounds like chain-smoking parrots trying to play the bagpipes and I get over that pretty 'awwww' feeling pretty quickly! Today is the last day though, so no more pre dawn wake up music, I hope!

Anyway, onto positive things!! I had my cooking class yesterday and I learned how to make 3 local dishes:
  1. Starter: Fresh Spring Rolls
  2. Main: Khmer Amok
  3. Dessert: Banana dessert
So today, I'm going to talk through the fresh spring roll recipe, tomorrow the Khmer amok, and on Saturday the banana dessert!

Personally, I love fresh spring rolls! I can be in the mood for deep fried spring rolls occasionally but nine times out of ten I will always go the fresh ones.  The good news for vegetarians is that they do taste great with no meat, so you could probably serve them to us meat eaters without any grumbling!! I'm not sure of the whole gluten free thing, but I think they are that too - for all the hippies!  ;)  I'm kidding!! The only reason I put this in is because I know my mother, who loves and adores me, will now make them for my gluten-free Grandmother while telling her all about how amazing and clever I am!!

STARTER: FRESH SPRING ROLLS

Dipping Sauce
Making the dipping sauce its actually really easy. Put three ladles (about 2-3 cups) of water into a small sauce pan and boil.  Add two dessert spoons of fish sauce, 3 teaspoons of palm sugar, 1 teaspoon of white sugar, half a teaspoon of salt, a half teaspoon of chicken salt. Simmer for two minutes then remove from the heat and allow to cool.  Finely chop 1 clove of garlic, 1 chilli, and 1 shallot with the juice of two limes and add to the sauce. Put in a dipping bowl and cover in crushed peanuts.


Fresh Spring Rolls
Finely slice half an onion, 100g of baby prawns/shrimp, 200 g of minced of finely chopped pork.  Heat 3 dessert spoons of oil and add one glove of crushed garlic.  Brown the garlic and add the pork.  Add a pinch of black pepper, a pinch of chicken salt, 1 teaspoon of sugar, 2 splashes (squirts from the bottle) of fish sauce and cook for two minutes. And the shrimp and onion and cook for roughly three minutes, add a squirt of oyster sauce at the end. Allow to cool for a bit (not too long though, I don't think its too important so just leave off the heat until you start making the rolls).

Now you just roll them up in rice paper. You just need to buy rice paper in those packets and whack the rice paper in water for 15 secs or so so it isn't hard anymore. Put the wet rice paper on a wet surface (e.g. a wooden chopping board) and try your luck.  We added the ingredients in this order. Shredded carrot, then bean sprouts, basil, lettuce, cucumber, then the pork and prawn mix.  Now practice your rolling skills. I found this a little tricky at first. Its just important to remember to roll firmly and fold the sides in at the last roll.

Here are mine.  The first one was my first attempt and is looking a bit sad because it split a bit, but the others are perfect! :)




So, you should try your hand at them and let me know what you think!! :)   Tomorrow I will run through Khmer Amok.  It's a fish dish and let me just say, as a person who usually doesn't order fish, it's bloody good!!

Until tomorrow!

Daniel
Follow me on twitter @TheDanFactor




Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Siem Reap, Cambodia: A little tour

I'm really starting to get around Siem Reap now, so I thought I might give you a little tour of this part of the world and where I am living.

I'm staying in a small home stay, a few kilometres outside of Siem Reap, which costs me 180 bucks a month! Pretty amazing, huh!!  And I get a free bicycle as well!! My room is quite spacious really, if Spartan. I have a large double bed, a few benches to keep my things, an ensuite and the complex has an outdoor communal kitchen area which is really nice as I have been able to meet some other volunteers from other parts of the world (mainly European so far).


Here is the street my home stay is situated, and my trusty bicycle!! 


Around the corner on Shoe St, I have all the necessities I could possibly need.  Shoe St is lined with, well, shoe stalls, but it also has many local eat shacks, two petrol stations, and a hairdresser.



A hair salon around the corner from where I am living...



My local petrol station!!

One of the cool things I kinda like here, is that streets are named, either officially or unofficially, by what is on them.  For example, Airport Rd goes to the airport, Pub St has lots of pubs, my street comes off a street with lots of shoe salesmen... Shoe St!!  It makes remembering street names easier!!

Shoe St, with all their shoe stalls

One of the entrances to Pub St which has a lot of the...wait for it... pubs!!


Siem Reap, while poor, does have a lot of charm.  One of the things I like about it is there are lots of little streets and side alleys which you can continue exploring and find exciting new places to dine and drink at, or even get a massage!  I find this really nice! I like a place that can slowly reveal itself to you rather than be right and in your face from day one.

There is no shortage of different cuisines.  This morning I had an Indian curry for breakfast, I just had fresh spring rolls and a chicken and mango salad at a local Khmer food restaurant, and tonight I am going to a volunteers farewell at an Italian restaurant where the tiramisu is suppose to be to DIE for!  I love me some tiramisu!

I started teaching at a school last night (a difficult thing after the lunch I had yesterday :-S)! The children are amazing, quite bright!  I would love to tell you more about it, and I will, except I am due there in 10 mins so must dash!

I have just booked into a cooking class, which I will have tomorrow!  So hopefully I will have some recipes of some traditional Khmer food which I have actually tried and made myself!! :)

Until then!

Daniel
Twitter: @ThedanFactor
Check out my about.me profile!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Siem Reap, Cambodia: Happy Pizza!!

If you have never been to Cambodia, you may be forgiven for not knowing what "Happy Pizza" is. Happy pizza seems to have been the must-try experience for curious travellers to Cambodia for years. Happy Pizza is merely pizza laced with the token drug of the 70's - marijuana, something which is a legal here.  Just to put the record straight from the beginning, I do not condone the use of drugs, nor to a recommend making such a pizza if good ol' mary jane is illegal in your state/country.  I am merely a traveller wishing to try a new experience which I am sharing. And since a few people have asked about it, here goes.

I initially did a bit of online research and found a place recommended called "Happy Special Pizza".  It's a bit down the road from the old markets in the French Quarter on Siem Reap.  There is a string of three Happy Pizza restaurants, Happy Herb Pizza, Happy Special Pizza, and Ecstatic Pizza.   Happy Herb Pizza and Ecstatic Pizza were both not recommended through online posts though Happy Herb was recommended in Lonely Planet.  All the happy pizza establishment are quite small and individually would be easy to miss so its a good thing they are clumped together!  My choice, Happy Special Pizza, is the restaurant closest to the old markets, has a square white sign out the front with, what looks to be, a dazed blue sun. It is located around the corner from pub street (the main pub/club street in SR).  For a bit more info on them check out their website here.

While doing some online research I also came across chatter about 2-3 years old about a Cambodian government crack down on the practice, but there are three restaurants down this strip alone so I guess that may have just been all huff and no puff, if you know what I mean!

On the menu there are a range of pizza's which while not being of gourmet quality are quite reasonable, though maybe a little more expensive than other meals (in my opinion) here in Siem Reap.  While it is not specifically on the menu, when ordering a pizza you order with "no happy", "a little happy", "happy", "extra happy".  I ordered just a regular happy pizza in the flavour of foccacia (tomato paste, italian sausage, green bell peppers/capsicum mozzarella, blue cheese and black olives. Oh, and happy).   

When the pizza came out I was unsure as to how generous they were with the happy herb, but it seemed to be quite a healthy dose.  The pizza as meal itself was fine. You can't really knock a four buck pizza!! The toppings were generous and the ingredients were quite good.  

The method of creating the happy pizza seems to be pretty simple. A layer of dried finely ground marijuana is placed on the pizza, under the cheese before cooking.  If you are interested in creating such a pizza, below is a recipe I found online here.

Happy (Weed) Pizza

(This recipe was originally adapted  from StonerChef.com)
Ingredients
1 ounce cannabis
1 pizza, oven-ready
1 cup mozzarella
Procedure
Using a coffee grinder, food processor or similar device, grind cannabis into a fine powder. Spread cannabis evenly over pizza by sprinkling gently; then follow with the mozzarella. Instead of adhering strictly to the recommended pizza-baking directions, carefully cook the pizza for two or three minutes longer than stated at 25 degrees below the recommended temperature.
Update: In the comments, ChiefHDB mentions cooking the weed in some sort of oil or fat to release the THC. This thread on marijuana.com touches on the concept, and posits that the oil from the melted cheese is being used as the vehicle to absorb the chemical.



My Happy Pizza!

There you have it.

The initial effects of the pizza were nothing to write home about, even if I did only have the small pizza.  It was nice to try though and it isn't exactly unpleasant. :)  The pizza taste is definitely not enhanced may the addition topping, though I don't think thats the point, really.  Having said that, I bet dessert will taste AMAZING!!! The effects are suppose to take a while to kick in so I might need to write an update about the effects tomorrow... they are definitely starting to hit.

In all seriousness, I wrote this while eating it and afterwards so it couldn't have been that severe...could it?

Extra happy next time, perhaps?

Daniel
Twitter: TheDanFactor

Siem Reap - Dinner for homeless children.

Kids are effing awesome!!  The night before last was two met travel buddies, Sharon and Nick's, final night in Siem Reap. So, with two friends from Holland they decided that they would host a dinner at a local outdoor market restaurant for some local homeless children.

Normally the homeless children here would be sorting through garbage to collect anything of value (cans bottles etc) or selling flowers, blacelets or books to tourists before going home are midnight.

So, come 6:00 Sharon, Nick, and another 3 of their friends, Julian, Jon and his wife, whose name escapes me at the moment, gathered up around 30 homeless children in central Siem Reap with the intention go give them a massive feast of chicken rice, drinks and two barbequed chicken pieces (a leg and wing).

Our dining table!! 30 children plus adults!!

Never have you seen a happier bunch of children at a dinner table! It was so incredible to see how thankful some of the children were! Not only that but what surprised me more was how smart these kids are.  These children weren't some of those brain drained 12 year olds we all know who spend 4 hours a day watching television, some, including our little friend Proen (pronounced like "prawn"), could have basic conversation in about 5 languages. These children may have been on the street, but they were definitely getting an education. Very street smart.

Proen is in the blue Batman t-shit.  Speaker of five languages, though he assured us that he 
certainly wasn't Batman.  Batman was his father. He is merely Batboy. You have been warned!!

Anyway, I don't want to go on about how special this was.  I just want to leave you with some pictures and, hopefully soon, a video of the evening I put together.  Its so awesome to see people do things like this, when they could easily push aside these children and pretend they are not there.

 Boys being boys!!  

This kid is the BIGGEST poser!! But also a kick arse street fighter! Afterwards we were messing around on the street outside and I damn near got an elbow to one side of my face, followed by a spinning backfist to the other side...  Below is his actual size compared to me... Just keep quiet, yeah??



This lovely lady was one of my favourites! She kept making me sit next to her and kept hugging my arm.  
Here we are looking at ourselves in the digital display on my camera.

Our end of the table at the night markets


These two (above and below) are brother and sister.  They are SO CUTE!! The girl sells bracelets and flowers around the main pub / club area each night.  I actually saw her as I was putting this post together and I touched up the photo a bit at her request! Such a girl - Cambodia's next top model? She was the most thankful for the dinner.  The night of the dinner she gave Nick and I a bracelet when we saw her later.  Last night when she saw Tash and I have dinner she gave Tash a free flower and both of us a big hug!



 This girl is feeding her sister. less than 2 years old.  Notice the seats.  There were no highchairs so we had to put three plastic seats on top of each other so it was high enough! :)

Two of the four dead set legends that made this happen, Sharon and Julian.

'Nuff said

Just so you know, this dinner cost about USD $200 for 30 children (though it could have been done for about USD $3.50 a child if they only gave chicken rice and one drink).  Earlier in the day a saw two American tourists scwabbling whether a bill, for the two of them, was $5, or $5.25....  And the end of this dinner, the children were so thankful, and went on their way sorting through trash and selling their wares.

If you are ever in a place around this world which provides you with an opportunity like this make sure you do it.  It was one of the best meals I have ever been too!!

Daniel
Check out my about.me profile! and follow me on twitter @TheDanFactor

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The beginning - Breakfast!

Hello world! 
Tomorrow I embark on one of the biggest adventures of my life and I sit here wondering how I will share my experiences with my friends and loved ones!  I have packed up shop in Perth - leaving many of my valuables in the hands of trusted friends and some of my remaining affairs with my flat mate Robina, and flown to Canberra before I head off overseas for... I'm not sure how long.


So, I was chatting to a new friend of mine, Jason, whose mother is a chef.  Before I left Perth we spent a bit of time together as he was going through a not very nice break up and I had some spare room where I let him stay for the week prior to leaving.  During this time, we got into the habit of not only drinking the last of my wine (there was a lot to get through, and we didn't succeed), but we made an effort to go to a different style of restaurant every night.  Italian, Greek, Australian, Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Lebanese, French... and as I was spending this week with amazing food and brilliant company I realised what I miss most about traveling - the people and the food!  Gosh I always miss the food!!!


I love the simple clean tastes of chilli and lemon grass in authentic Vietnamese, The delicious fresh taste of fish in Japan, the unique blend of chinese, indian, and malay foods that bring the unique malaysia cuisine to life, and don't even get me started on Europe... tapas, cheese, breads, cured meats.. pastas... wow!!


So I thought, it is very easy to send a little blog with photographs an descriptions, but I really wanted some of my friends and loved ones to experience another element of my travels - the food.  


This is what this blog is about.  While I travel, I am going to try to find recipes of local cuisine and post photo's, videos, and recipes so that if anyone is interested they can make these meals at home and try them for yourself.  You will be able to buy, cook, smell, serve and share different places of the world with your friends and family!


I will try as hard as possible to find recipes as authentic as possible but if I cannot do this I will search the internet with recipes/ingredients I think will be similar. So no hating!!


Remember - buy the freshest ingredients, learn about the food, play with it, smell it, and share it! And Never, ever, ever, eat alone!!


Anyway, to begin with, I want to share with you my favourite meal of today, the day before the start of my trip.  It was a simple breakfast that I love to enjoy when in Canberra from a local bread and cheese house called "Silo Bakery".  I had the privilege of dining with two old Perth friends, Amanda and Tristan and delighted in recommending a dish that Tristan loved and changed his opinion of the restaurant!  I'm not sure why but I think of Europe or Melbourne every time I see Silo's.  Its a really small quaint restaurant in the suburb of Kingston in the ACT full by 7:15 am, with a line of people wanting to get in.  Clientele range from public servants, to professionals, to cyclists enjoying a post ride coffee, all there to experience the high quality produce and coffee.  The restaurant does takeaway as well as dining in, with an array of beautiful sandwiches and tarts, a cheese room to select a cut away portion of delicious cheeses and breads, while also offering their own jams and chutneys.  Not the cheapest, but definitely worth it (I bought a jar of the chilli jam for $20).






The breakfast I always love to order is their chilli eggs.  I love, love LOVE that shit! A simple meal comprised of two slices of sour dough bread - toasted, two softly poached eggs, a good dollop of thick chilli jam and some roasted tomatoes.


Scouring the net, I wanted to find a recipe I thought would taste as similar to this as possible.  I felt the jam definitely had an Asian taste to it, a hint of lemon grass perhaps, and it reminded my of the chilli paste Sambal from some Malaysian dishes I have eaten, but maybe not as spicy.  So a sambal recipe my well serve as a good substitute to this jam.  I found a Thai Chilli Jam, which doesn't have any lemon grass in it, but you could easily add it.  The Jam was quite thick in consistency, nearly a pizza paste consistency, and worked well with the poached eggs.


So, for Chilli eggs:
Two slices of Toasted Sour Dough Bread (get from a reputable bakery - many supermarkets serve Sour dough flavoured bread in place of Sour Dough).  
"To qualify as a sourdough, the bread must contain a portion of wild yeast starter.  Otherwise it's just traditional, commercially leavened bread.  Long-period, cold fermentation is really tangental to the definition, as it's a technique used with both sourdough and commercially leavened breads, the purpose of which is to give bacterial and enzymatic activity time to work, in order to improve flavour depth and complexity (and in the case of sourdough, to enhance sourness)." - Definition sourced here 

Two Poached Eggs
The trick to good poached eggs seems to be the use of vinegar and salt in the water.  If you are unsure of how to properly poach eggs, try this recipe.

One good scoop of Chilli Jam (this will need to be made in advance)
A recipe I found for a chilli jam is here, feel free to alternate and adjust, potentially adding lemon grass or other flavours to your liking.

Optional: roasted tomato


Place the two poached eggs onto the two slices of toasted sour dough bread. drizzle of of the chilli jam oil over the eggs and place the Chilli Jam and optional tomatos on the side.


This is how mine was served from Silo's Bakery. My apologies for the image quality, its from my iPhone3.



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Siem Reap, Cambodia. The first week - thank Vishnu for the French!!

Thank God for the French, that's all I can say, or Vishnu, now I'm in Cambodia! While French efforts to colonise Asian countries, or any country for that matter, was never nearly as successful as the English, the French did do a few things well.  While implementing a stable government, infrastructure, sanitation, schooling and all other elements of society which made England powerful, but obviously boring, were implemented haphazardly by the French, they do seem to have focussed on the important things in life when it came to spreading their influence into far regions of the Orient - cheese, bread, milk and wine.   Go France!  

But before I scoffed too much about the method of implementation of colonisation, I had a think about Western life and diet, and if I took out all the dairy and bread I realised, pretty quickly, that while I may be able to survive a while, it isn't long before I want some crusty bread, or cheese and crackers... or milk in my tea or coffee... think about it.  I assume France thought these delicacies are what separated us from the animals, or the locals, or something, and they were probably right, except for the bit about the locals.  And do not even get me started about life without wine. Why would you even bother?

However, the history lesson into the poor treatment of Cambodians by pretty much, well, everyone (including themselves) aside (I will go into it later in another blog post), Cambodia is lov-er-ly.  The French must have got something right. 

I am quite happy to report that Cambodia, like Vietnam (also colonised by the French, by the way) have lovely fresh baguettes (at USD 30c) a reasonable supply of cheeses including camembert and brie, reasonable coffee, and milk is readily accessible, which actually really surprised me after living in Malaysia.  Either, things have improved greatly in 3 years in this region, or Cambodia is on top of it their game!  I assume the later!  Also, coincidence or not, you can eat frogs here. Not just the legs like in France, but the whole bloody thing!!  Stores here are lined with French (and other - including Australian) wines, and not just crappy 3 dollar a bottle wines either - e.g.  Moet, Verve, and Taittinger Champagne is all readily available and a wide varieties of wines at different prices are available at quiet reasonable prices - from about $5 into the hundreds of dollars. Actually, yesterday I googled a review of the Chateau Soutard Saint-Emilion Grand Cru, of Bordeaux, France, which was selling for USD $120 a bottle, and that was just at the local store.

So, I am quite happy to thank the French for making my stay in Siem Reap that much more pleasant and easier to adjust too.  Last night I was quite easily able to put together a wine a cheese platter for four people that would have been the envy of many, for about 20 bucks.  So, France, merci.  I wouldn't want to get sick and go to the no-hospital, but an evening with a lovely merlot with friends in balmy weather is to die for.

Aside, from thanking my lucky stars for the French, because of the French I find myself volunteering in local schools for the poor (free schooling supported by locals or NGO organisations).  Tash (my travelling partner while in Cambodia) and I made contact with a school called Jimmy's School, run by a local by the name of...wait for it.. Jimmy.  Tash and I will start there on Monday, I believe. So, I am looking forward to that.  We popped by last night while the children we in the middle of a lesson to see some very enthusiastic children learning English (see how that's done, France) and giving us lovely big smiles and hand waves. But more on that once I have started working there.

To end with, here's a lovely food story, since I think I am suppose to do something like that in this blog.  Tonight some friends I have met since arriving, who are leaving Siem Reap tomorrow, are having a banquet for street children. At 6:00 tonight we are all going to the local market to round up some little street urchins, and will take them to a local outdoor restaurant and let them order what they want.  Of course, by '"we" I mean "them". Though I will be there, they will be paying.  That's the best way really!! ;)  Remember, the best meals are those you share with others, whether old friends, new friends, or to be friends and I can't think of more deserving recipients.  To be honest, it really is heart breaking to see the poverty here.  Literally, you have children waiting at your table for you to finish your can of beer so they can collect the trash to sell for money.  So, I imagine, tonights dinner will be amazing!  These children are grateful for anything they receive and they also have some of the biggest smiles I have ever seen on any child!  They just need a bath - something neither the French or the English seem to get right!!

Daniel

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Saturday, November 12, 2011

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Nasi Lemuk and Teh Tarik

Selamat Pagi!!

I hope we are all having a delicious morning!! I am currently sitting in a "Street food" cafe in Kuala Lumpur International airport waiting for one of my best friends Tash to jump off her flight from Perth so we can board our flight to Siem Reap, Cambodia.

Now, I hate airport food. I hate, hate, hate it. But I can still blog about 2 traditional Malaysian dishes even if I am not eating the best that is available on the peninsular (of Malaysia) at this point in time, because I have tried both these.  

One thing I love about Malaysia food, is that it is a true fusion of Chinese, Indian and traditional Malay food.  I have chosen a traditional malay breakfast and an Indian Malay drink to write about.

The first is Nasi Lemuk.  Nasi, meaning rice, and lemuk, meaning fatty, or creamy, as it is cooked in coconut milk.  This stuff is awesome! I have even had a variation of it in Miri (Sartawak, on the island of Borneo, which was served to me on a regular basis while drunk, fending off lady boys).  So, this could be breakfast, or it could be drunk food.  Win win either way really!!

Traditionally the dish is made up of six different elements.  The rice, Ikan Bilis (dried anchovies), Sambal (chilli paste), sliced cucumber, Boiled egg, peanuts.  However, I love it with beef rendang as well. It just adds something else to it.

Being stuck in KLIA, I couldn't meet someone to show me how to make Nasi Lemuk, so here is a recipe I found online, and a recipe for beef rendang here.  For those who want to cheat, there is a fake recipe here.  Whenever I ate Nasi Lemuk in Miri, the egg (Telur) was fried, not boiled, and it tasted better I thought, so why not try that as a variation!!

Here is how my nasi lemur was served.  It has a chicken curry (Beek rending is much better) and a pupadum... I have never had a pupadum with nasi lemur before, nor do I actually care for it.  If you a a pupadum fan then maybe you'll like this, but I'd say give it a miss.




Also, most malaysia dishes (and other South East Asian countries) eat their food with a fork and spoon (Fork in the left hand, spoon in the right).  You use the fork to push the food onto the spoon which then takes the food to your mouth. Do try it. Once you've got the hang of it, eating the local food is much easier!!

Now the beverage a chose to have with my Nasi Lemuk, is a traditional Indian-Malay drink call Teh Tarik. Teh meaning tea, and tarik, meaning pull.  Hence, pulled tea.  Basically, once you've made the tea, you pull it from the glass and a pot until the desired head is acquired.



This stuff not only tastes amazing, and you can have it hot or cold,  but if you find an entertainer, watching it being created can be a show in itself.  Here is a video I found online of it being made (ok, this is being made in Thailand, but it's still freaking awesome!), and, of course, a recipe and more interesting information on teh tarik, see here.


OK, so, I hope you get to taste a little of Malaysia.  Sorry it isn't more comprehensive, but its the best I can do from an airport!!

Until next time, when we start getting into Cambodia!!!!
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