The aromatic chicken curry is cooked to perfection, tender chicken pieces with soft golden potato nuggets in a thick curry sauce. The thin layer of chili oil on top is already a promising sign that I am going to love this dish without even having to taste it.
"How did you make your Curry Chicken, Mr Tean's right?" I asked. "Ha Ha! Yes yes! It's Mister Tean's! How did you know?!", Dennis is surprised that somehow I able to sixth-sense and revealed his secret recipe. Well, it is no secret really, all Malaysians that I know of love to use almost foolproof Mr Tean's seasoning paste in their cooking. Dish like this is best to share among friends; and that's how I found myself having an awesome Malaysian cooking dinner party with nine others at Dennis'.
What are the chances of you become good friend to a total stranger who sit next to you on the plane? Believe it or not, that's how I met Dennis on our inbound flight back from Malaysia last year and we have become good friends since. No doubt food is the universal language that has strengthen our friendship. Especially when there is a full spread of delicious home cooking on the table.
Me and The Pom were lucky enough to get invited to his new pad in Neutral Bay for a late housewarming dinner party. Funny enough all the guests at the dinner party are none of his friends but his partner's. It is very generous of him to cook for people who he doesn't even know that well.
A great way to break the ice and the awkward silence are soon finding ourselves tossing the Yee Sang salad together and it didn't take long, we are chatting away all night with diversity topics over dinner. It is a little strange to have Yee Sang in autumn, but I guess there is no bad time to give the salad a good toss and wish for more prosperity and fortune in the Chinese culture.
I was so impressed with Dennis' efficiency to cook most dishes right there and then after guests arrival so that all dishes are still hot and fresh when served. The sweet and sour pork spare ribs is a most loved classic Chinese dish. The spare ribs are simply stir fried in sweet gravy without the stodgy heavy batter and pineapple slices are added as the sour component for this dish. Red and green capsicum are also tossed into the wok for that extra colour and crunch.
Initially thought that ngoh hiang is on the menu, until Dennis started slicing these meat sausages, revealing tiny quail eggs wrapped inside. This is the first time I've seen and tasted this unusual dish. The sausages are pan fried until nice and golden brown on the outside, while the mince inside is just right with still a little pink can be seen. The colourful egg york inside makes such a beautiful contrast, to have everyone ooh-and-ahhing at first sight.
One of my favorite dishes is the soy chicken, chunky cuts of chicken pieces, it is so silky soft and succulent to the bone with a thin layer of skin barely clinging to the meat, that has soaked up all the soy flavour after being cooked for hours. A simple soy dressing glazed over the chicken to enhance the flavour of the meat and not over salty.
The stir fry Chinese Broccoli (Gai Lan) is a nice alternative vegetable dish from the typical Choy Sum and Bok Choy. Luscious green of crunchy chinese broccoli with a good dash of osyter sauce and a smidgen of fried shallots, simply beautiful. Dennis also prepared some BBQ pork which is bought from a Chinese BBQ shop in Chatswood I believe. I do have a soft spot for well cooked, nicely marinated and with those caramelised burnt edges BBQ Pork and these definitely ticked a few of the boxes.
Then there is braised shiitake mushrooms with pork & prawn mince. Big fat juicy shiitake mushrooms are filled with pork and prawn mince mix, pan fried and braised in egg and bean curd sheet gravy.
And the last dish is a substantial Tofu with pork and mixed vegetable hot pot. Pyramids of tofu are firm but soft in texture, stewed in claypot with tender pork slices and snow peas. Kudos to Dennis to spend so much effort into such simple dish, as he even cut the carrot into autumn leaves for presentation.
I promised him to make something and bring along to the dinner party. Hence I've made some mini crème brûlée for dessert. I was so inspired by the creme brulee I had at ENZO cafe in Hunter Valley so I decided to replicate it and served it with chocolate biscotti and blueberries. It is also a good excuse for me to go and purchase a blow torch and caramelise the sugar in front of the crowd for that extreme wow factor. (HA! such a *loser*...)
It was a great dinner party, even though I don't know most of the guests there. While we were chatting away around the dining table after meal, I was being nosey and noticed a box of folded paper on the display unit and asked Dennis what it is for. He laughed at me just because I am fascinated by origami which folded out into a paper bowl, which uses for the chicken bones, peanut shells and the like. I thought is such a brilliant idea by using unwanted magazine and folded into something so useful! I begged for one to take home so I can learn how to fold it myself. I am looking forward to my endless supply of chicken bone paper bowls.