Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Hidden Star

Its always nice to stumble upon the unexpected... to taste something which you totally expect to be only passable, only to find your tastebuds pleasantly surprised. This was the case when M and I decided to pluck up enough courage to have dinner at Bintang cafe, an very non-descript, slightly rough around the edges Indonesian restaurant in East Vic Park. We are both fans of the slightly cleaner looking Batavia cafe around the corner which serves really spot on Indonesian sotos (or soup) and have often wondered about its poorer cousin just around the corner.

Don't get me wrong - not everything is good here - most of what we had ordered tasted at best ordinary... the pempek (Indonesian fried fish cake) was too doughy and had an accompanying sauce that lacked the tang that normally makes this dish very addictive. The satays here were a little too overcooked and burnt, leaving an unpleasant bitter taste despite being smothered in peanut sauce.

Things were not looking good... until we tasted the home made Mie Ayam (or simply fresh egg noodles with a chicken and mushroom topping). Simple... yes. Tasty... very much so. The texture of the home made noodles was great - firm to bite and perfectly seasoned with the basic toppings. Nothing fancy here... just well made, well seasoned noodles... Coupled with the home made kickass sambals on offer here.. this was unexpectedly delicious.

Our adventure into a meal at Bintang (which incidentally translates to "star" in Bahasa Indonesia) was an unexpected surprise... and this is one hidden star where we'll probably keep coming back to for a cheap noodle fix.

Bintang Cafe
12/910 Albany Hwy, East Victoria Park

Bintang Cafe Indonesian Cuisine on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

My Favourite Ingredient

There are many ingredients that I love to cook and eat with... but above all of the exotic and sometimes painfully expensive ingredients that I can think of, the humble egg takes the numero uno spot in every single way - flavour, texture, versatility and visual appeal. To me... a perfectly cooked egg can transform any dish from pedestrian to something completely memorable and extraordinary.

And so, waking up unusually early on a lazy Sunday morning (I blame this crazy Perth heat) gave me the perfect opportunity to experiment with cooking my favourite ingredient with a new technique - slow poached in its shell.

Readers who remember my post from late last year on Cumulus Inc (that fantastic breakfast spot in Melbourne) will remember how I fell in love with the 65/65 egg dish. Basically an egg poached in its shell at 65 degrees celcius for 65 minutes - I was swooning over the creamy texture of the not quite set egg yolk with the barely set egg white. And so, figuring I had time to dedicate to giving the mighty egg what it deserves, I set out to recreate this dish.

Now a word of warning - this did take a little bit of love and care during the cooking process (particularly if like me, you don't have the luxury of a induction hob which helps with maintaining a constant temperature)... but I firmly believe that food cooked with love is food worth cooking. Plus - the reward makes it all worthwhile.

I simply used a candy thermoeter and immersed a super fresh free range (please) egg in cold water which I brought to a warm bath of 65 degrees celcius (never allow the water to come to the boil or the dish is ruined).

Slow is the name of the game here - but 65 minutes on, crack your egg in a dish and you'll marvel at how beautifully shaped and intensely flavoured this super ingredient truly is. All that's left to do is to serve with fresh toast soldiers and a glass of orange juice for breakfast heaven... eggs-actly the way it should be.

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