Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Dumbo: Gourmet Extraordinaire - #11: The Most Worthwhile Pot of Bah Kut Teh in Penang

I don't know if this is the best pot of Bah Kut Teh in Penang, but I know it is the most WORTHWHILE - worth the drive there, and worth every cent you have to pay for it.

The soup base is nice - if not the best (but how do you define "best"?) - and you get lots and LOTS of porky thingy: not just a few chunks of meat swimming in a vast ocean, like what some other stalls are dishing out; no, the pot here is practically jam packed with goodies! It's like a Japanese public swimming pool in the summer: flesh here, flesh there, and fleshes everywhere! :-D (a meat-person will love this)

And how much does this cost? A mere RM 6 for a one-pax serving (as shown in the picture above; not including the rice, which is 70 cents per bowl), at the time of writing. Now, don't get me wrong: RM 6 is perhaps not the lowest price-tag in Penang for a one-pax serving of Bah Kut Teh. But substance-wise, this RM 6 is surely worth at least RM 10 elsewhere. Some laborers who regularly have this Bah Kut Teh for lunch usually share a one-pax serving between two persons. Now, if a one-pax serving can satisfy two persons with labor-intensive jobs, that surely says something about its substance.

And where can you find this nice pot of Bah Kut Teh? At a coffee shop called "Big Bend Cafe" (大湾茶餐室). From Balik Pulau, head toward Teluk Bahang. The coffee shop is only a few hundred meters from the town center, by the roadside, on your left.

Dumbo in the Kitchen - #6: The Virtues of a Good Pot of Soup

I have previously discussed briefly why it is imperative that a bachelor learn to prepare a good pot of soup. Here, I would like to share a couple of more tips on how that good pot of soup can be put to good use.


The soup here is a simple one: pork ribs, shitake mushroom, yam (the true yam, not taro), and carrots. Naturally, there is a good deal of garlic in there as well. And you only need to season it with salt. Perhaps a little bit of white pepper, if you like.

Prepare the soup, keep it in a thermos pot, and you'll have a whole day worth of meals taken care of.


First, the breakfast.

Reheat the soup if necessary, pour onto a bowl of Quaker instant oat (5 tablespoons of oatmeal for a small bowl as shown here, or 10 tablespoons for a big bowl), let it sit for a few minutes, and you have a healthy bowl of delicious oat porridge, with pork ribs, mushrooms, yam chunks, and carrot to boost. Trust me, you'll learn to love oatmeal after a few bowls of this.

Then there is lunch.

Boil some instant noodles, boil some greens (no, make that LOTS OF greens), pour the steaming hot soup onto the noodles and greens, and you have a healthy bowl of noodle soup. The only thing unhealthy is probably the instant noodle, but you have no choice unless you know how to make your own noodles (actually, it's quite simply; all you need is some high-protein flour, water, a bit of salt, and lots of muscle kneading that dough).

If you are like me, who thinks it unthinkable not to have tea, then it's time to make another bowl of yummy oatmeal. For indulgence, get a cup of instant cup noodle, throw away the MSG-laden seasoning, and pour in your steaming hot soup (re-boiled if necessary). The only thing in the picture below that does not involve the soup is that mug of milk.

Now, for a semi-romantic dinner with your girlfriend (in my case, my wife), it's time to prepare some delicious spaghetti.

To do that, I will enlist the help of a pack (or two) of Campbell's Instant Soup Powder. The one I used here is the "Cream of Mushroom Soup with Cheese and Croutons" variety.

First, cook the spaghetti (any variety, up to your preference) in plenty of water. It's customary to add salt and oil to the water, though I'm not quite sure why...

Drain the water when the spaghetti is about half-cooked. Then add in the pork-rib soup and continue cooking.

Let the spaghetti soak up the soup. When the spaghetti is el dente, make sure that the soup remaining in the pot/pan still amounts to about half a small bowl (roughly 120 ml) for every pack of Campbell's instant soup powder you want to add, not more, not less. Pour in the instant soup powder, and stir thoroughly.

The instant soup powder will thicken the gravy (not to mention making it sinfully delicious), and there you have it: a very tempting East-meets-West spaghetti dish, that does not need a professional chef to prepare.

Late in the evening, when you feel like having a supper/snack, well, have another bowl of oatmeal, if you still have some soup left. :-)

No wonder my waist is 48-inch++ in circumference.