Nov 28, 2007

Food - The definitions

I have written various issues, let's go to the basic - which should be my first
Food are define as anything, everything that can be consumed, eating and drinking, as long is edible and for Muslim - must be halal. While the objective is to provide energy and maintenance of body.

There are plenty of food in this world, a normal one would be fish and seafood, beef and lamb, poultry, birds and games, vegetarian food for vegan. Under special category of exotics like Korean with their dogs meat, Japanese with their Puff's fish; despite known poisonous, others are caviar, frog's legs (available at Ampang wet market), turtles soups, alligator meat, kangaroo and ostrich, and sometimes insects and rodents.

So, which one you like to have?

The Halal Food Concepts

The halal concepts, are topics that is very close to me. Being Chef, there are a lot of questions yet to be answered. I also sometimes have doubts of our "well-known" HALAL-JAKIM logos. Hey, don't blame me, Malaysia after all having all sorts of advance regulations and law, yet when it come to implementing it...hancus (gone with the wind).

  1. As for start, the halal concepts lies in the ingredients itself. In the early years of working, I would love to have the fruits cakes, which provided free as snacks by my employer. I stopped, after "accidentally" found that during the process, RUM is used, as to flavor and moisten the dried fruits, hence longer expiry date!

  2. As for animal, it must be slaughtered according to Islamic ritual (halal requirements). While I have no doubts in beef/lamb, which are slaughtered accordingly with licence and controlled abattoir. But for chicken, this is not the case, most chicken are sold in market, cleaned. where and who slaughter it? I always wonder why chicken nowadays are tasteless and their meat are like some plastics fibre, so, I try this "organic chicken", then my confidence being restored. It taste sweet, bones as hard as I remember those days, when only "orang tua aje boleh makan"
There are various issues in this topics, being involve in food industry, I would like to continue discussing this, for sure.

Nov 25, 2007

Asian Culinary - the future trends

1411 - Melaka was conquered by the Portugese - stated reasons, herbs and spices
fast forward
2007 - Visit Malaysia Year - promotional tags "Malaysia truly Asia", "Malaysia Truly Asian kitchen"

The CIA - Culinary Institute of America ( is the most established culinary institute in the world recently organized the Rise of Asia on 6th November 07; read the excerpts
" The Culinary Institute of America at Greystone this last weekend held its 10th Annual Worlds of Flavor International Conference & Festival, The Rise of Asia: Culinary Traditions of the East and Flavor Discovery in 21st Century America. Over 700 people from around the world have gathered for the three-day conference at the college's West Coast campus in California's Napa Valley. The Rise of Asia brought together a conference faculty of more than 75 top chefs, cuisine experts, cookbook authors, food writers, wine experts, and other authorities—from China, India, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam, as well as Australia, Canada, England, Germany, and the United States."

The Nasi Lemak; a popular breakfast among Malaysian. The technology has assists in improving it further with "frozen; ready to eat", now just one switch button of mcrowaving, you can have it. This is available under licensing program

The future is Asia and its complicated yet harmonized cuisines. I always enjoyed cooking western, easy, fast and limited ingredients, but when it came to Malay traditional, hmm.. frankly, I never really excelled, like rendang and rendang tok, nasi briani muar or kuih bingka, bengkang and seri muka (malay traditional cakes), if asked, I would prefer to prepare varieties of cheese cake :)

Here some of my analysis of some Asian Cuisine focusing on the main ingredients - Malay Cuisine- Fresh Herbs and Spices, Indian Dishes - Dried Processed Spices, Chinese Food - Processed Herbs and Spices, Japanese - evolve around Fish and Seafood. Thai - Fresh Herbs and Processed Spices.
Whatever it is - you can see it is coming again, those mat salleh's and others from four corners of the earth will flocking our country to study, learn, and re-learn our ingredients and cuisine. For me, is good, as our foreign exchange will increased, augurs well as we strive in becoming academics hubs of Asia

The issue is here - whether our education industry is ready? and our chef-instructor are qualified and capable enough?

Holding Principles in Life (the office politics)

The arc of "min" of jawi and a keris; 2 characteristics of Melayu. I am a Malay, the 8th generation of Minang descendants; whilst I believe witholding the positive, pure and finest quality of being one, I never allowed myself to be submerged in negative aspects of the community.

I remember that my father always reminded me, of being sincere and never to involve in corruptions.
He quote; "Corruption will corrupt your next generation, means your children, please provide them with strong foundation of the religion, focus on education and never forget to pray"

I keep that in my mind, now passing them to my children
I was reading my brother writing on his blog about bapak, my father as we called him. There, I was in state of emotional again, as deja-vu of bapak's advises. (visit the interesting blog; rahman-time in bottle)

Holding principles never been easy, but with doa / prayers to God Al-Mighty, it will happens
I remember my first arguement in office (1997), after I found someone took sales money - around RM150x4 days, on weekly basis, which I make a report to my superior, thought an action will be taken to the person, but ended me, instead to be transfered out to Dungun, Terengganu. I was so naive then. (FYI - years later, the superior did asked for an apology, which I accepted)
Deja-vu, present (10yrs later) - I make a complaints that "someone" makan gaji buta, (a junior "chef") of being task to submit a kitchen design, which he had zero knowledge, didnt know how to do and yet submitting an expenses claims, hmm :), wonder ada logo halal-jakim tak?
(fyi-I was then being asked to complete the design)
my superior responds was... to transferred me out, and expect next, a "planned dismissal".
(first time I had to bring al-quran, the holy book, to the meeting - which upon seeing it, my superior asked for an apology - but the damage is done, asked god instead)
I have nothing more to say, but referred this to HIM again, to provide me with justice
that is a real life story on holding a principles...
(Update-28/11: I fought the war, win some major battles, lose some minor one, and truce is being called. I guess my strategic thinking quite good; after all is one against five. Obviously if you are in right path, some spiritual help does exists. Thanks God for the guidance, Thanks to my mum for her prayers, thank you friends-for the information; war is about information anyway)

Nov 24, 2007

Being Muslims..

I always proud being a muslim, easy yet full of responsibilities. Sometimes I wonder whether my other fellows understands its basic requirements? is my checklist

I = Isya'
S = Subuh
L = Luhur or Zohor
A = Asar
M = Maghribs

The checklist could only be completed in one day, not able to completing will resulted in different meaning all together... in short, its a 5 times prayer a day as pre-requisite.

so, hopefully we are muslim in true practice, Amen

Between Chefs and its entitlements

Being 17 years in the industry, I could only wish there are some elements of control for the title of "chef". In Malaysia, anyone could claim he or she is a chef. I have seen a singer, after so many years in a foreign country, returning home, only to be known as "chef", tak boleh menyanyi dah, terus jadi chef

It took me 4 years of study, 2 years of working experience before a 5-star hotel entitled me; Junior Pastry Chef (Penang Mutiara 1995), yet it doesnt stop me to continue improving the competencies.

In USA, chefs must undertook an exam, before he or she could use the title, I dont expect it to be controlled as in medical industry, but I dont want any abuse either. It must be controlled by a "faculty" or a chef committee.
Currently our local TV are airing program about herbs and spices, led by a "Master" chef....despite I know the person and his culinary experience, I doubt where he got his "Master" chef titles .....
FYI - in USA, you must take the exam, a gruelling 10 hours to prepare 10 classical cuisine to be presented to 5 judges - all Certified Master Chef, and pass the exam before can use the "Certified Master Chef". I am looking at 20% passing rate (means only 2 will pass out of 10 candidates) and nearly RM100K on fees and accomodation, I feel so small in this world

Here another example, one of my junior lecturer took over my class, as I falling-in sick. Despite that, I do worried as my class offering striploin steak today....
Sadly as expected the steak turned out to be as hard as wood.... yet the junior lecturer wanted to be known as chefs..hmm, kerja cari makan, bukan as Ibadah...that why, my perception to those young lecturer nowadays, have no passionate in their teaching at all.

Roasting Striploin steak requires some time of marination, slow fire in the oven, suggested at 150C-160C, over some period of time ( more than 45minutes), hence, slow method of cooking..... it definately cannot be thrown just like that into the oven, which will resulting "roasted wood with flavors"
Only jauhari mengenal mana manikam, mana intan, mana permata, mana kaca, only experience chef know how to teach properly

Nov 21, 2007

Culinary Tourism - Jalan2 Cari Makan & Kopitiam Trends

It was supposed to be my off day today, but I ended with a journey with my best friend. It started with my quest in getting a scholarships.. after half day discussing with my distinguished academic advisers, there.... 4 different Kopitiam, 4 cups of black coffee and various type of "roti bakar" (toast with butter and kaya-coconut cream jam), a 6 hours journey - culinary tourism. A very unpredictable day, but interesting

Culinary Tourism is a new term for special group of tourist that emphasis on finding interesting, food that offered in a particular country
Kopitiam is term for coffee shop, normally offers local coffee blends, toast, soft-boiled eggs, maybe nasi lemak and curry puff included in their menu

Here some of the history
Currently Kopitiam is the trends here in Malaysia. The coffee "craze" in Malaysia was started back in 1995-1997 with KLBC or Kuala Lumpur Best Coffee, way before the arrival of international chain -Starbucks, San Francisco's or Coffee Beans. Prior to that, coffee was consumed in small scale, unglamorous way at many roadside stalls and restaurant. Maybe after realizing that, the "branded" coffee actually overcharging their customer, Malaysian are indeed supporting much cheaper, more suitable coffee blend of their own familiar kopitiam, there's you got the popularity of Kopitiam in more professional run businesses.

For those who like to travel, please drop by these well known kopitiam, at the middle of town of Kemaman, Terengganu or The Kluang Railway station, Johor or you could just have the coffee anywhere in town near you.... enjoy your coffee

Nov 17, 2007

Culinary Research Paper

As promised, this is my space on chef and culinary world. As for start, here are some insight of my (planned) original academics works, with objective to enhance the knowledge spectrum of culinary education around the world. Expects more to come in near future:

My current research paper ( with 2 other writer) entitled"Blending of Science and Culinary Arts; An insight into University Putra Experience" are in progress and expected to be cited and published with Journal of Culinary Science and Technology, in first quarter of 2008

My PhD paper entitled "Culinary Conceptual Curriculum Development from Malaysia's Stakeholder Perspective" expected to complete in 2009. Current stage are proposal submission and to be followed with proposal defence in first quarter 2008

My aim was to published at least another 3 topics in culinary area, as I complete my graduate study by end 2009.

The other area will coming soon in this blog, will be Q&A for cooking, health cuisine, and Malaysian Herbs and Spices page.. so, wait for another mouth watering desserts to be served as I getting tutorial from experts (thanks, bro. Rahman) in developing this site further.

Stay tune

Happy Birthday, Dear

Today embarks another chapter of our life, the 11th anniversary and a birthday with no cakes, no romantic dinner, just a kiss each from our lovely children to the only best girlfriend, Happy Birthday dear.

Nov 16, 2007

The List of Ingredients

Most Malaysian have realized that their weekly chores to the nearest market or supermarket are no longer the same, everything has gone up or "Barang Naik" (BN). Don't blame yourself of your lower qualifications, has provide you with basic job, with meagre salary nor blaming your boss giving your RM-based salary instead of US dollar, better bet, the Euro.

But the culprit is - increasing petrol price, will increase everything

I dont have to become Professor of Economics to explain the spiral effect, but hey look further and deeper;

Its cost RM4 Billion (shared with 26 million Malaysian) to subsidized the petrol that we are paying at 1.92/litre

but RM16 Billion to subsidized, roughly about 10 the Independence Power Producer (IPP) is never an issue...
(the facts is electricity could be easily supplied by TNB even without IPP)

who's suffering now, who's laughing all the way to the bank :(

why can't our government change the subsidized regime to RM16 Billion to 26 Million rakyat, and RM4 billion to 10 business, after all business is about taking risks. The Answer: Crony for BN

think about it Malaysian, next year another increament promised. If you vote BN, then suffers barang naik

It is funny indeed, with ingredients and gas to cook, it become my first issue in economics suffered by Malaysian.....

(update 30/11: MIER has announced today that we, Malaysian are OK with 40 cents increament - AFTER ELECTION!!! - wow, OK - that will be RM2.32 per litre or for my 15 yr old iswara - about RM95 full tank x 5 per month = RM475!!!! even at this moment at RM1.92 or 70x5= RM350 I already feel a pinch.... how about all the ingredients price - TAK NAIK? oh please, with Shafie Afdal controlling everything, you will know the spiral effects, everything is increasing 40% for sure, yet the MIER person who announced it known as Professor bla bla, never mentioned anything on the spiral effects... as stupid as someone to be known as a Professor, it stinks even to the highest heavens)