#chefbro recipe – kaya

I know some people live their whole lives without tasting kaya. It’s sad. 

Basically, kaya is a type of coconut jam –  an eggy, custardy, pandan-fragrant, delicious coconut jam. 

Kaya has big childhood resonance for me. My mother used to make it in the cramped kitchen of our family home in Brisbane, at night so the heat wasn’t usually too bad (says I, who never had to stay tethered to the hot-plate and double-boiler…).  Continue reading “#chefbro recipe – kaya”

#chefbro recipe – crumpet loaf

This blog is not a recipe blog, so it may seem odd that this post contains a recipe. Here’s why it’s here: I posted a couple of photos of my brother’s crumpet loaf on Twitter and the level of interest in it was remarkable.

Lots of people did not know such a thing existed – it is indeed a gift for humanity that it does – and quite a few were asking about a recipe. I thought this was the easiest way to share it as Twitter does not lend itself to sharing recipes, what with that 280 character limit and all.

The recipe and method is below, direct from my brother Kong Hian Khoo, the chef (aka #chefbro on my Twitterstream). Not only is he a fabulous chef, he’s also an excellent brother and human being. If I could emulate even half his generosity, good humour, and optimism, I would be a way better Tseen – and possibly someone you don’t recognise…

[Don’t worry, family, I’ll go back to sledging the dragon-seed soon]

Whole crumpet loaf | Photo by Tseen
Whole crumpet loaf | Photo by Tseen

Continue reading “#chefbro recipe – crumpet loaf”

Crowded kitchens

Mum's sayor lodeh (Photo by Tseen Khoo)
Mum’s sayor lodeh (Photo by Tseen Khoo)

I take my family’s kitchen skills for granted.

I forget how much food and cooking knowledge I’ve gained purely through osmosis, and watching others do their thing.

Like many Malaysian Chinese families (or Asian families more generally?), we’ve always been big on feasting and special occasion meals. Wisely, my siblings and I also snagged partners who were similarly appreciative of sharing food and making meals meaningful.

My mum and dad have always been keen cooks, and my mum has taken formal cooking classes in a broad range of cuisines. She takes on the lion’s share of the household’s dinners, and we have a family dinner every Sunday night. Her collection of cookbooks is formidable, and it includes a lot of bilingual 1960s/70s books from Malaysia. Once upon a time, we used to have regular dinners for 40 or more people at our Brisbane house in Chapel Hill. It wasn’t that large a house, and the 1970s kitchen from which she and my dad produced massive feasts was tiny + very badly designed.

My brother is a chef; he’s been in the hospitality industry for over 20 years. He has worked at a whole range of restaurants, bistros, and cafes – in Brisbane, Melbourne, and around the UK. He’s currently in his cheffing dream job, one that allows him to get home in the afternoon so he can focus on gardening and having a life outside the industry. That said, he’s an obsessive breadmaker (and loves experimenting with sourdough and ciabatta), and loves crossing the back fence to bring us samples. This is a practice we encourage. Greatly.

My SIL is a qualified chef. Of course. She introduced us to the seductions of whole cauliflower mornay and excellent coleslaw. She joins my brother in culinary adventures, not to mention the incredible food hampers we are privileged to get every Christmas. C. also writes a food blog and has overall mad kitchen skills.

My husband is a great cook, he’s the obsessive genius behind our family’s novelty cake series. He’s the kind of person who can turn his hand to anything and, with vague instructions from the internet, make it a success. His Christmas puddings have all been excellent (traditional plum pudding, as well as chocolate), and I remember very fondly the meals he cooked for me when we were dating. They were fab, and – strangely enough – seemed inspired by 1970s Women’s Weekly cookbooks (e.g. beef stroganoff, prawn cocktails).

Why am I telling you all this?

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