Wine finds: non-white wines that goes with meat and fish

I’ve caught the mother of all flus right now so bear with me if I don’t make complete sense in this post. I’ve just arrived in Canada to visit Sugamama so more things to come on this website. For now, let me just make a quick post about some wine that my family and I had tried over the past month that went well with our surf and turf dish. I do think that these wine will go with both fish and meat. Although when having something with seafood, people tend to say go for the white. I used to think that is how one should always do in order to not have a bad clashing taste of fish and wine in your mouth. But then, when you have a fine piece of red meat, you’ll always want to have it with a glass of red. There are wines that definitely go with both red meat and fish. Here’s what we had as selected by Papa Salvatore.

 If you can’t decide if red is the choice… how about a rose? This lightly sparkling Beaujolais-rose is a good one for those who are looking for something light and fruity. The cost is only 66 ringgit! Cheap and cheerful!

This is a vapolicella. A red that is medium bodied and works well with surf and turf themes. The tannin is not very pronounced in this so it’s very palatable for the people who are only just starting to drink wine. Again the price was not very steep and this bottle of San Pedro was very good.

Rioja. This is probably considered a heavy wine but this Vinas de Gain was surprisingly well suited with the meat and fish. This wine has a dark colour and more tannic so I would have though it would clash with fish. But no, since Rioja has a short time in the ageing barrel, it was fruity and crisp.

Finally, the most expensive one of all was this Burgundy. 2004 Chateau de la Tour Clos-Vougeot Grand Cru. Quite fruity like berries, yet a tone of minerals can be tasted. It is slightly tannic and light bodied. I like this wine because it is really mellow and I can have this all day and not feel sick.

So what is your opinion on wine that could go well with both fish and meat? Yes, we could just have BOTH white and red wines at the table but for argument’s sake what kind of wine would you choose?

Anyway, time for me to take more paracetamol and go to bed.


Anthocyanins: Butterfly Pea Flower and extraction

I mentioned in my previous post about using a natural blue food colour for my cake decoration. You may be familiar with this pea flower plant. Not only is this a source of natural food colour, there may be health benefits in taking this flower as it is a rich source of antioxidants. It is used as a food ingredient especially in South East Asia. The juice of the flower is famous for making the Nyonya kuih called pulut tai tai in Malaysia. It is also used in making kerabu rice. This was recently featured in Gordon Ramsay’s programme where he travelled to Malaysia. I had such a laugh as the Malay lady in the programme non-chalantly called this vine ‘clitorial bush’, to much of Ramsay’s ‘surprise’. Well, the taxonomist is to blame really! Anyway, unlike the rice featured in that programme, Kelantan’s nasi kerabu is very blue. Here’s my mum’s version of kerabu.

 Yums! Nasi Kerabu with dry beef rendang, fish crackers and a whole lot of condiments. Goes well with some beer, and of course, a bit of budu (not pictured, sorry).

The Mumakil has several vines growing in the garden, but for us living in a KL apartment, having our own ‘clitorial bush’ is not an easy one. So when I went back to Kelantan, I picked some of the flowers and tried to make an extraction. First, I did some studying on how best to extract the colour and keep it. Anthocyanins are the pigments in plants and are the reason that give this flower its distinctive blue colouration.  They are also water-soluble, which meant they can be easily extracted from the plant cells with a solvent such as ethanol (this part is removed because of error, see below for explanation). Here’s how I made my extraction:

  1. After rinsing and letting the petals dry a little, sterilise a small jar/bottle by heating it in hot water (I used a chicken essence bottle).
  2. Stuff all the flowers collected into the bottle and add a little alcohol such as vodka (You can use water if you don’t want alcohol, but you will have a little less pigment) (same error, see below).
  3. Using the handle of a clean spoon, squish the flowers until they are bruised and submerged in the liquid.
  4. (Optional step) Cover the bottle with some cling film and leave it in the fridge for a week to maximise extraction.
  5. Strain out the flower using a fine sieve (tea strainer is good).
To make a syrup, just add a whole lot of sugar to the extract. In Thailand, the flower is used to make a drink. Inspired by this, I made a cocktail out of it.
Butterfly Pea Blue Vodka Fizz
Add blue flower extract and two shots of flavoured vodka to a tall glass with ice. Add soda water or tonic. Stir. Simple.
I used a flavoured vodka because the butterly pea flower doesn’t really have much taste to it.
Now to play with the colours…
 As anthocyanin is pH sensitive. Not only pH plays a part in the colouration, it can also degrade the colour a little. You can read more about it in this paper or on wiki if you are biochemistry inclined. So to keep the blue colour, the liquid of the extract must be on the alkaline side. I decided to play around to see the range of colours I can make.
Erm, Pinkydoodles has a few (by a few, I meant 10) test tubes in the apartment. Perfect for my little experiment. The middle test tube in the picture above shows the colour after extraction. On the left is what happened when I added lemon juice to the extract to make it acidic. A nice reddish-purple colour.  The right test tube shows what happened when I added sodium bicarbonate to make it neutral (I think? tell me if I’m wrong). It turned a greenish blue. I don’t have anything very alkaline in the house unfortunately, but the colour should still be blue. Heh, talk about your very own litmus test.
Here’s another look. You can see that it is purple at the zone between alkaline and acidic.
So, if you are looking for a substitute for blue food colouring that is not artificial, you could try this. Won’t work obviously if your food is going to be sour, that is the disadvantage of natural food colours sometimes.
p.s: Today’s post is made to coincide with the anniversary of the formation of our country. Happy Malaysia Day!
An error: Thanks to a reader, who pointed out a flaw in my statement “They are also water-soluble, which meant they can be easily extracted from the plant cells with a solvent such as ethanol”. Much thanks and my apologies for the error. Ethanol IS NOT water so does not equate to water soluble. That means the solvent one should use here IS water. My bad.

Lemon Curd

Well now, lemon curd… I first made my own in the UK for desserts such as lemon meringue pie. If you’ve read my post on Merdeka cake, then you might remember that I made my own lemon curd for the cake topping.

Now, this is not the super thick lemon curd that goes on bread like a butter spread. Because I was going to use it as an ingredient, I wanted a tangy curd that glazes over the top of the cake. Here’s how I made it.

Lemon curd ingredients (makes about 400 ml):

  • Juice and fine zest of 2 lemons (that is roughly 125 ml of juice)
  • 50 g of granulated sugar (you can adjust this amount according to your taste)
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 90 g unsalted butter (cubed)
  • a pinch of salt


  • Boil some water in a large pan. Have a bowl sit on top of the pan, but not touching the water. You’re making a bain Marie (double boiler) here. You can just make the curd directly in the pan over the stove, but chances of making scrambled eggs and lemon are pretty high.
  • In the bowl, mix the egg yolks, lemon juice, salt and sugar. So the mixture should be something like this:

  • Now, keep stirring to make sure the mixture is heated evenly and prevent any of the eggs from becoming lumpy. Watch the heat from the stove. You should be cooking with the steam of the hot water only.
  • The mixture should start thickening after 5 to 10 minutes. When it is getting to a jelly-like stage, add the butter and take it off the stove. Keep stirring until all the butter has melted.

  • Stir and stir to cool the curd. The curd should look all smooth and shiny.

  • Now I recommend that you strain your curd to make sure that you got a smooth custard. Just pass it through a sieve while it is still warm. Here’s mine being strained into a sterilised jam jar.

  •  Done! Once the curd cools completely, it will be a little thicker, like mayonaise.

If you want a thick curd, you can:

  • add some egg whites instead of just the yolks. Something like two egg yolks and two whole eggs should work.
  • add more butter. 120 g maybe?
  • you can also add a bit of corn starch to thicken… but I don’t like this option.
  • Whisking the mixture instead of just mixing with a spatula. Whisking will incorporate air into the mixture, making it increase in volume, and also a lighter and thicker curd… it’s almost like making zabaglione. Sort of…

Lemon curd keeps for about two weeks in the fridge (4 to 8 degrees celcius). Storing it in a sterilised jar will help prolong its shelf life.


Happy Mid-Autumn Festival

It is the time of year where we give and receive mooncakes to celebrate the mid-autumn festival. We used to play with lots of lanterns as children… ah, the good ol’ days. We did however still love our basic mooncakes and animal shapes. None of this ping bei business, please (those are usually given as gifts, but really they can’t beat the traditional crust with red bean filling).

Our selection of red bean paste mooncakes in animal shapes and traditional moon shape (top right). Nice to look at, nice to eat! These were bought from the SS2 Sunday market, except for the piggy with the ribbon… Pinkydoodles bought that one from somewhere else.

Happy mid-autumn!


Gok Kapor Fish Market

I’m back in Malaysia just in time for the ending of Ramadan. A family friend in Kuala Lumpur asked if we could get them some fresh large prawns for Hari Raya because KL prawns are really expensive and often not very fresh. We were driving up to KL in a few days time so Papa Salvatore said no problem.

20 to 25 kg? That’s like a large suitcase full of prawns! The Mumakil (mum) was anxious on how in the world we going to buy that much and have it transported to KL from our hometown, Kota Bharu.

By the way, why is it that The Star Newspaper in Malaysia always can not get the spelling of our hometown right? It is fricking Kota Bharu! Not Kota Baru, not Kota Baharu either!

Anyway, off I went with The Mumakil to Gok Kapor, a fish market near Kampung Cina in Kota Bharu. This place is probably the freshest fish to be bought in town.

The entrance to the fish market

Gok Kapor means “Chalk Shed” literally. This place used to be where chalk for sirih consumption was being produced. I’m not sure how it then became a fish market.

Just after the entrance, you will find lots of stalls selling fruits and cooked snacks such as kuihs.

Inside the market, lots of fishes were on display. Only The Mumakil would dare wear white trousers in a wet market like this one.

The fishes are so fresh, the horse mackerels looked like they were still alive.

Here’s mum selecting some ‘white prawns’ from the prawn monger. There were no tiger prawns on the first day we were there due to the festive season. So mum told the lady to ‘book’ some large tiger prawns tomorrow.

And that’s how we got giant tiger prawns fresh from the sea. The prawn lady had the tiger prawns stashed at the back of her stall. She was actually glad that we wanted the big ones, because restaurants that buys from her didn’t want such big ones. it’s about 3 prawns per kilo!

So we bought a total of 14.5 kilos of prawns. The prawn lady gave us some free white prawns because we made her a small fortune that day. Another prawn lady was curious as to why we bought so many.

“Mek, mek buak gapo nok banyok ude nih? Mek rayo jugok ko?” She said (translation: Madam, why do you need so many prawns? Are you celebrating [Eid] too?) .

Mum just said “Buak barbeque.” Um yeah, we so barbequed our way thru’ 14 kilos of prawn. Not us la!

Here’s The Mumakil holding up the largest prawn we bought that day. Talk about monster prawns! We couldn’t resist but to cook a few of these big ones!

Surf and turf dinner! Grilled prawn and steak (rare) on a bed of mashed potatoes and salad with balsamic vinegar dressing. yums!

After halving the prawns, Papa Salvatore seasoned it with some salt, pepper and chopped coriander, then popped them in the mini-oven to grill. Cooked a piece of steak on a grill pan to make a surf and turf combination. Delicious! To top it off, Papa Salvatore’s wine selection of Chateau De La Tour’s Clos Vougeot 2004 Grand Cru. Excellent.

Wait, we were still short of prawns. The request was 20 to 25 kilos of prawns and already we kind of bought all the large prawns in Gok Kapor. So Papa Salvatore called some Siamese connection and tadah a delivery of 10 kgs of prawn came that night. The prawns were not as monstrously big, but larger than what you normally find in KL still.

Oh and the fun we had (not) to pack 24 kilos of prawns into 3 styrofoam boxes with ice. Then put them all in the car boot and drove to KL for 7 hours for delivery.

And what I understood is, the family friend did barbequed their way thru’ 24 kilos of prawns on Hari Raya.


UPDATE: Gah! I can’t believe I forgot to mention… If you walk all the way to the end of the market, you will find behind it lies the river (Sungai Kelantan) and a little landing. It’s a beautiful view!