Friday, September 4, 2009

Almost Bourdain's Malaysian & Dutch Feast

"Just bring your empty stomach and enjoy". That was the invitation extended to us lucky people, by Ellie of Almost Bourdain, to come and sample some Malaysian and Dutch treats whipped up by herself & her husband. I felt so spoilt! It was a fantastic opportunity to meet Ellie and her lovely family, after being an avid follower of her blog for quite some time. Her Malaysian recipes always look so delicious and make me miss the food over there, so I had a feeling that the lunch would be full of moments that would help cure some of the homesickness I get for Malaysia. Along for the ride was Helen, Lorraine, Richard, Shez, Simon, Suze and Yas.

Sure enough, there's already a load of food and drink ready for us that are guaranteed to put a big beaming smile on my face. On the table is rojak, a Malaysian fruit and vegetable salad dish with a thick, sweet and nutty sauce (which I couldn't have, but was happy to pick pieces of pineapple and fried dough off the plate), cute mini biscuits that looked like curry puffs which tasted just like the little spicy shrimp rolls I always buy in Malaysia, and spiced gouda. I particularly enjoy the gouda, which is peppered with caraway (or was it cumin?) and just delicious dipped in the accompanying mustard.

Spiced gouda

Smoked sausage

It was the first time I really got to try Dutch food, and I really enjoyed it all. The sausages were lovely and smoky and were also great with mustard, the friekendel speciale were tasty little sausage-like pieces of ground meat topped with diced onion, Dutch mayonnaise and curry sauce. The curry sauce was intriguing, not particularly spicy but with a strong scent of curry powder. My favourite of the Dutch goodies on offer was definitely the bitterballen, deep fried and crumbed balls which are very much like croquettes with a smooth, spiced, meaty filling. I was so busy enjoying one of these that I totally forgot to take any photos of them, silly me!

Friekendel Speciale
On to the mains! I was already feeling a bit sloshy and full from downing many glasses of barley water (oh childhood memories!) and Michael Jackson drinks, but I was so ready for the food because it looked and smelt so amazing!

Michael Jackson drink

So much food!! (Front: Gado Gado)

ehaktbal (recipe)
The gehaktbal are huge Dutch meatballs which have been sliced up and skewed with big hunks of onion. The Dutch must like their meat, and I don't blame them when it's this yummy.

Nasi kunyit
I can only clap my hands with glee at the sight of the bright yellow nasi kunyit (tumeric glutinous rice) and I am bouncing up and down in my seat when the huge dish gets placed right in front of me. A bowl full of happiness, that's what I called it! I ate far too many portions of this and had to resist the urge to loosen my belt and this wonderfully fragrant sticky rice, dotted with whole black peppercorns, expanded in my stomach. Oh so good.

Beef rendang (recipe)
I'm usually quite picky about my beef rendang, and this was a good one. It was definitely all that toasted coconut in the recipe that added that extra texture and aroma that you would expect in a good redang and this went perfectly with the nasi kunyit. I ate so much AND I took some of the rice and rendang home with me for A, who gobbled it all up on his own.

Malaysian chicken curry
Ellie cooked two chicken curries, one with a Malaysian brand curry pack and another that was Singaporean. It was interesting to try both of the side by side, because I sometimes use the Singaporean one (Prima) at home because I'm too lazy to do it completely from scratch, but it tasted different to how I remember and I found myself enjoying the Malaysian version more. They were both very moreish though, and I went back for seconds (possibly thirds, I'm not sure, me and Shez hogged the curries, rendang and rice at our end of the table).

Singaporean chicken curry

Cooking roti for the curries

While Ellie was getting the previous dishes ready in the kitchen, her husband was preparing this amazing fish on the barbeque for us. Whole snapper was placed on banana leaf and then smothered in sambal belacan. My mouth was watering at the sight of that huge bowl of super spicy and incredibly aromatic sambal belacan.

Snapper on banana leaves ready to be barbequed

Spreading on the sambal *drool*

Sambal ikan (

The fish was as good as it looked, gorgeously moist and tender flesh with that fantastic spicy flavour punch from the sambal.

Butter prawns (

Last but definitely not least were the Malaysian butter prawns. This is one of my favourite dishes to have at seafood restaurants in Malaysia, that combination of the butter, egg, chillis and curry leaves is so good, I can just eat it on its own. Unfortunately this dish came to the table after I had already gone a little bit nuts on all the curries and nasi kunyit so I was really full already, but of course I had to try these, and they tasted just like how I remembered.

Cheesecake brownies (

Even though I had totally pigged out on the dishes before, I always have room for dessert! And lucky I did, because we had so many awesome sweets on offer. Cheesecake brownies, a hybrid of two of my favourite indulgent dessert and bright green kuih bakar. I was keen to try the kuih bakar because it had previously been described as 'kaya in a slice form' which was so up my alley!

Slicing the Kuih Bakar

Shez insisted on cutting the kuih in the diamond shape that is typical of kuih sold in Malaysia, it's just not the same if it's not cut this way I swear! The only thing that would have bettered it would be to cut it with a crinkly knife to get that crickle-cut edge :D The kuih was just as I expected it, rich with the flavour of pandan and really nice with the sprinkling of sesame seeds on top.

Kuih Bakar (

Rockmelon sago
Two things that were guaranteed to get me on a sugar high - rockmelon sago and a selection of different dulce de leches that Simon had brought for us to try and compare. The rockmelon sago was soooo good, I want the recipe Ellie! The four different dulce de leches we had to try were made from 1) A no-name brand, 2) Nestle brand 3) Skim milk 4) A squeezy tube version of condensed milk.

Dulce de leche taste testing

It was very interesting to see the differences between them all, unfortunately the squeezy tube one had crystallised a bit since it was smaller and probably needed less boiling, so although the taste was nice, the texture was off. The skim milk one still tasted good but wasn't as smooth and creamy as the full fat ones, but would probably be alright after some whipping with an electric beater. My favourite was the no-name brand one, which seemed lighter and less dense than the Nestle brand version. Wheee sugar!

Pasteis de nata from Sweet Belem, Petersham

Finally, even though I was going to explode, I managed to share half of one of these portuguese custard tarts that Yas brought from Sweet Belem. I can't believe I didn't know about Sweet Belem before, everyone else seemed to, but I must go visit now! These were so amazing, the pastry was insanely flaky and made an extremely sexy (yep there's no other way to describe it) crunchy noise as you bit into it and was followed by a lovely light and creamy custard, topped with a load of cinnamon which I totally loved. I was wishing I had just eaten a whole one! Thanks Yas!

Custard tart food porn

At this point I was so well fed, I couldn't believe I was going to have to leave from this lunch and go straight to a birthday dinner where I would have to consume more food. Ughhh. But Ellie's lunch was definitely getting priority stomach space and it was so worth it. Thank you so much to Ellie and her lovely family for hosting such a wonderful and tasty lunch, it was fantastic spending time chatting and enjoying food with you and all the other bloggers!

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  1. For 'the foodblogger without an slr' you take some of the best photos out there :) mmmm

  2. yup a great day indeed - ellie is a wonderful cook! whenever i see these event wrap-ups a little part of me wishes i'd made room to eat even more :)

  3. What a feast! The food looks delicious!!! And I'm so glad there are recipes, thank you thank you!

  4. lex - Wow thanks! That's the nicest compliment ever :)

    Helen - I agree, I wish I could cook like that! Same here...I could totally eat more of that nasi kunyit right now...

    Brenda - Oh don't thank me, thank Ellie! All the recipes are from her blog, go check it out!

  5. Wow now that's a feast!! Waaaahhhh too bad I had to miss out :(

  6. Yum! What a feast! Must've reminded you guys of home & good sweet - I mean - street food.

  7. Wasn't Ellie a fantastic hostess? It was so nice catching up with you and spending an afternoon with you! Love the burger ring too :P

  8. What a delicious feast. I'm so jealous!!! Everything looks fantastic.

  9. Thanks for such a great post. It's my pleasure having you for lunch and get to speak to you for a first time. I am so glad that you enjoyed the food and had a great time. Oh, I must say you photograph really well!!

  10. omg!! You guys had all those??? What a fabulous spread of malaysian and dutch food, you guys are soo lucky =D

  11. We were so spoilt weren't we hee hee thanks Ellie ^^! And it was awesome to see you guys again!

  12. Oh my god is this what I missed out????? *kicks myself* What an absolutely delicious looking feast!!!!

  13. Karen - Oh we missed you! Don't worry I'm sure there will be others in the future :)

    Forager - Hehe yup it made me super nostalgic!

    Lorraine - She was brilliant! And such a good cook. It was great hanging out with you too, heheh how funny is the burger ring? It gets some weird looks sometimes :)

    missklicious - :) It was delicious, I think we were very spoilt!

    Ellie - You're so welcome, I had so much fun and everything was so good! Aww thanks, but I think your photos are 100 times better :)

    Linda - Haha I know, we had sooo much, I was so stuffed.

    FFichiban - We definitely were, it was awesome seeing you too! And funny seeing how many prawns you could eat hehe ;)

    Trisha - :( It was such a shame you couldn't make it!

  14. It was such a great feast for sure! So many yummy dishes out on the table, who could resist?

    and I went to bondi junction afterwards and had a dinner pretty soon.. lol

  15. I know, I think I may have actually drooled! Hahaha yeah I still managed to eat dessert that night, my poor stomach!


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