Author Archives: Nicholas Pillai

The 7 sins of eating sushi. (Note: You’re probably guilty of all of them)

For many Angelenos, going out for sushi can be a weekly or even daily ritual. It’s also one of the most widely used “interests” listed on online dating profiles — and for good reason. There’s something about sitting at the sushi bar, watching the sushi chef meticulously slice a piece of toro, then gently press it into a carefully formed mound of rice in the palm of his hand. It’s almost therapeutic. And just as there’s an art to making sushi, there’s an art to eating it.

Everything involved in the making of sushi — from the years it takes to perfect a rice recipe, to the sourcing of the seafood, to how that fish is sliced and presented — comes from years of training and tradition. If you’re going to chose omakase, and often relinquish the equivalent of a week’s paycheck for it, you might as well do it the right way.

So we consulted the experts: sushi chefs from some of the busiest sushi bars in L.A. Because chances are we’re all just doing it wrong. Here are seven cardinal sins of eating sushi.

Eating nigiri with chopsticks

 

(Electra K Vasileiadou / Getty Images/iStockphoto)

When eating nigiri, the slices of seafood over pressed rice, use your hands, not your chopsticks. For those of us who feel a sense of pride after finally grasping a piece of sushi with a pair of chopsticks, this may come as a surprise — and perhaps a disappointment. But in Japan, it is traditional to eat nigiri with your fingers. When eating sashimi, use chopsticks.

Mixing wasabi in your soy sauce

 

(Tobi911 / Getty Images/Flickr Open)

Do not take a clump of wasabi and mix it into your small dish of soy sauce until the color becomes a pale, swamp-like green. “No wasabi in your soy sauce because the sushi chef already put it on the sushi for you,” said Sushi Roku executive chef Hiroshi Shima. Before your nigiri arrives, the sushi chef will have put a smidgen of wasabi on the underside of the fish — the amount determined by the type and condition of that seafood — before pressing it into the sushi rice. That is the intended amount of wasabi for that bite. Any more than that would be the equivalent of salting your food in front of the chef.

Eating miso soup before sushi

 

(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

Most Japanese restaurants in the U.S. serve miso soup as an appetizer before your meal, a prelude to your sushi combination set. In Japan, it’s the opposite. Just think of how the French serve salad after the main course, not before. A small bowl of warm miso soup is meant to be eaten last, after your sushi, as a way to help settle the food. So ask for it after the sushi, before the check.

Rubbing your chopsticks together

 

(popovaphoto / Getty Images/iStockphoto)

There’s something about a pair of wooden chopsticks that makes people want to rub them together. Maybe it’s an attempt at avoiding splinters; maybe it’s just a habit. Whatever the reason, just don’t do it. Or at least don’t do it in front of the sushi chef. “It’s very, very bad manners,” said Yoya Takahashi, executive chef at Hamasaku. “It’s like if you rub your knife and fork together. Not good.”

Using too much soy sauce

 

(Getty Images/Fotosearch RF)

When dipping nigiri into soy sauce, don’t dunk the fish. Just use enough soy sauce to complement the fish, not overpower it. And be sure to dip your nigiri fish-side down. It will feel like you’re doing things backward, but too bad: The rice should not touch the soy sauce. (This makes sense when you think of all the times you’ve had to ask for a new soy sauce dish because yours is full of errant rice.)

Using your phone during dinner

(Getty Images/Tetra Images RF)

The temptation to Instagram, tweet, Snapchat and Facebook every course of beautifully prepared omakaseis always going to be there. But respect the chef in front of you and put the phone down. In fact, leave it in your purse or pocket, and only let that glowing screen resurface after you’ve finished your meal. Some sushi restaurants will have “no cellphone” signs posted behind the bar. Others will simply ask you to leave.

Ordering anything but sushi at the sushi bar

(Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times)

If you take a seat at the sushi bar, your intentions should be clear. Do not sit at the sushi bar, then tell the chef you’d like an order of chicken karaage, beef teriyaki with tempura, some garlic edamame and maybe a side of ramen. You can do that at a regular table. Respect your sushi chef. If you’re at the bar, it should be for sushi and only sushi.

jenn.harris@latimes.com

March 2016 Cooking and Baking Classes

Sunday March 6th 2 pm 

Tuesday March 15th 2 pm

Zaku Zaku Croquant Puff with Salted Egg Crème

I was asked to do this class for an Overseas student who had tasted this in Japan.  I made it and he loved it and all but I didn’t think much of it. So I decided to take it to different heights.

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So here it is.  First class in PJ.  Come learn to prepare Zaku Zaku Croquant Puff and the Salted Egg Crème.

Price Per Person: $90 (Class will commence once there are 6 students)

 

Saturday March 12th 2 pm

Vegetarian Meals

 This is part Malay part Indian, part Chinese and probably part Eurasian style of food.  Something I am quite used to eating each day.  You will learn;

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  1. Spicy Pumpkin
  2. Gado Gado
  3. Stuffed Chee Cheong Fun

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Price  Per Person: $95 (Class will commence once there are 6 students)

 

Thursday 17th March 11 am

Kid’s Pizza Class

Let’s make different pizza variations;

  1. Pizza Pinweels
  2. Calzone
  3. Pizza Pizza
  4. Pizza Dough
  5. Pizza Sauce

Price Per Person: $95 (Class will commence once there are 6 students)

Sunday 20th March 2 pm

Breakfast and Eggs

  1. Asparagus Fritata (Spinach will be used if no Asparagus)
  2. Scrambled Eggs
  3. Omelet with a lightly spiced Vegetable Filling
  4. French Toast

Price Per Person: $95 (Class will commence once there are 6 students)

 

Sunday 27th March 2 pm

Fish Curry Bread

 

Chicken Curried Bun

I’ve done, Chicken Curry Bread, Chicken Rendang Bread and Mutton Curry Bread.  This time, let’s do a Fish Curry Bread.

This will probably be more difficult than the meats.

Price Per Person: $90 (Class will commence once there are 6 students) Each student will get one Fish Curry Bread to take home.

 

Classes will be held at 70 Road 14/24 Petaling Jaya. 

Please call 016 6827465 or email cookingwithnicholas@gmail.com to book and to make any enquiries. 

Please check my blog www.nicholaspillai.wordpress.com

 

Fees are to be paid once you make a booking, if a class is canceled you will be refunded.  If fees are not paid, your name will be not be placed on the list.

Extra Extra Holiday Class

Hello everyone. I will be holding two classes on the 25th January 2016 as it is a public holiday.  I will be holding the Bak Kwa Class and the Fruity Sweet Class

January 25th 10 to 1 pm – Bak Kwa Class

Learn to prepare Chicken Bak Kwa from scratch.  Please be prepared to work outside as this involves BBQing.

chicken bak kwa and Bak hu

Homemade Bak Kwa and Bak Hu ( Chicken Floss)

Price Per Person: $80. (Class will commence once there are six students)

Please CONFIRM by Saturday January 23rd as I need to order the ingredients. 

January 25th 2.30 to 5.30 Sweet and Fruity Bread Class and other old tea treats.

I like Fruity Breads, but not so much the sweet part, but at times it is nice.  You will learn to make to make a European Sweet and Fruity Bread, an two old fashioned tea favorites all using dried fruits.

I have not had good Florentines for ages, hence this class. Got my hands on this old old recipe.

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  1. Kugelhopf – only because I want to show off my new mould
  2. Florentines – the days when sugar was loved
  3. Eccles Cakes – Fruitiness Encased in Puff Pastry.

kugelhopf

Please note, the above is a borrowed photo. But I got the same mould.

Price Per Person: $110 (Class will commence once there are 5 students)

Please call 0166827465 or

email me at cookingwithnicholas@gmail.com

 

 

January 2016 Cooking and Baking Classes

Saturday January 16th 10 to 1pm

School Recess Food

Nutrition is always an issue for school going kids.  Learn to make some easy fridgeable foods for school recess that withstands the heat and still looks good. This is even good for breakfast and also during breaks.

  1. Granola Bars
  2. Chicken and Cheese Muffins
  3. Mini Bread Fritatas

Price Per Person: $100 (Class will commence once there are 5 students)

 

Saturday January 16th 2.30 to 5.30

Bak Kwa Class

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Learn to make Chicken Bak Kwa for Chinese New Year.

Parts of the class will be held outdoors so please wear something comfortable in case it gets hot.

Please bring a container to take your Bak Kwa home.

Price Per Person: $80. (Class will commence once there are six students)

 

Sunday January 17th 10 to 1 pm

Sweet and Fruity Bread Class and other old tea treats.

I like Fruity Breads, but not so much the sweet part, but at times it is nice.  You will learn to make to make a European Sweet and Fruity Bread, an two old fashioned tea favorites all using dried fruits.

kugelhopf

  1. Kugelhopf – only because I want to show off my new mould
  2. Florentines – the days when sugar was loved
  3. Eccles Cakes – Fruitiness Encased in Puff Pastry.

Price Per Person: $110 (Class will commence once there are 5 students)

 

Sunday January 17th 2.30 to 5.30

Sweet Little Teatime Treats

Sometime I just like nice pretty little things for Tea.  Learn to make;

Japanese Crepe

  1. Japanese Crepes
  2. Cream Puffs
  3. Butter Tarts

Price Per Person: $100 (Class will commence once there are 5 students)

 

Saturday January 23rd 11 to 1 pm  

Heart Stopping Roti Jala Desserts

Roti Jala or Net Pancake is not only good with curries but also as a dessert.  Today you will learn two desserts using Roti Jala.

  1. Roti Jala Recipe
  2. Roti Jala with Durian – Serawa Durian
  3. Roti Jala with Sticky Rice and Mango

Price Per Person: $110 (Class will commence once there are 6 students)

 

Please like my Facebook page, Cooking with Nicholas

 

Classes will be held at 70 Road 14/24 Petaling Jaya.  Please call 016 6827465 or email cookingwithnicholas@gmail.com to book and to make any enquiries. 

Please follow my blog www.nicholaspillai.wordpress.com

                                                                

Fees are to be paid once you make a booking, if a class is canceled you will be refunded.  If fees are not paid, your name will be not be placed on the list.

 

 

 

 

December 2015 Cooking and Baking Classes

This month will be a very heavy month with work for my big my KK Restaurant project.  Next week I have my young chefs coming in for training.  A Motley Crew of Cooks who I handpicked from many candidates.   So this month after nearly 9 years of Christmas classes, I can only hold two or three sessions.

The first will be my Fruit Cake Class which I will hold twice and a Roast Turkey Class just a week or so before Christmas.

 

Sunday December 6th  and  Wednesday 16th  10 to 1 pm

Fruit Cakes and Fruit Cakes 1

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Learn to bake these old fashion cakes from scratch.  You will learn to bake;

  1. Dundee Cake
  2. Old English Rich Fruit Cake

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Price Per Person: $100 (Class will commence once there are 5 students)

 

Sunday December 6th  and Wednesday 16th 2.30 to 5.30 pm

Fruit Cakes and Fruit Cakes 2

Learn to bake these other old fashion fruit cakes.  You will learn to bake;

  1. Sri Lankan Fruit Cake
  2. Rich Chunky Fruit Cake

Price Per Person: $100 (Class will commence once there are 5 students)

Saturday  December 19th 10 to 1.30 pm

Christmas Turkey Class

Learn to Roast a perfectly Moist Turkey and learn to prepare a nice little Christmas Lunch or Dinner complete with Christmas Pudding/ You will learn to prepare;

turkey roast

  1. Roast Turkey
  2. Turkey Stuffing
  3. Green Bean Casserole
  4. Maple Glazed Sweet Potatoes
  5. Christmas Pudding
  6. Brandy Butter Sauce

christmas pudding

Price Per Person: $145 (Class will commence once there are 6 students)

Please like my Facebook page, Cooking with Nicholas

Classes will be held at 70 Road 14/24 Petaling Jaya.  Please call 016 6827465 or email cookingwithnicholas@gmail.com to book and to make any enquiries. 

Please follow my blog www.nicholaspillai.wordpress.com

Dutch Pancakes

It was a chance whatsapping with Fong Mei Leng about our Jelly Pursuits, and then she suddenly says she’s off to make her Dutch Pancakes.  Now I have vaguely heard of this but never ever made it in my life.  I don’t think I have eaten it as well.

So while whatsapping I googled it and came across a few recipes but the one that fitted my Samsung Screen properly was Martha Stewart’s Dutch Pancake Recipe.

You cannot imagine how quickly you can make this pancake. The longest part of this recipe it preheating the oven.

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So here goes….

Butter                                                2 tbsp + 1 tbsp – I used salted as always

Plain Flour                                      1/2 cup – loosely the way I do it, unlike Martha’s                                                                       who said to compact it.

Milk                                                   3/4 cup

Eggs                                                   3 large

Vanilla Essence                              1 tsp

Salt                                                      1/2 tsp

Sugar                                                  1 tbsp although Martha’s said 1/4 cup. I didn’t have                                                                castor sugar so I used normal sugar

Lemon Slice

Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to 180 or 200 C
  2. IMG-20151116-WA0014Place your Ovenproof Skillet or whatever you call this.  I bought this in India for something Indian and ended up making Dutch Pancakes
  3. Place all the ingredients except the Lemon Slice into the blender and whizz it for about a minute.
  4. In the meantime take the tray and skillet out of the oven and brush with butter.  Place it back in the oven again.
  5. Then in about two minutes, pour the batter into the mould.  Just till it slightly to the top.
  6. Pour out the rest onto the hot skillet.
  7. Bake for about 15 minutes and check.
  8. The ones in the mould should be lose enough.  one or two might erupt because of the heat and steaming process.
  9. Remove from oven. If the skillet is at the bottom shelf, place it on top now.
  10. Remove the Dutch Pancake Balls, and eat it like that or dust a little icing sugar on it and squeeze a little lemon juice.  Since I did not use much sugar, I had it with a bit of butter and I dusted some icing sugar so it would look a tad bit more photogenic.IMG-20151116-WA0017
  11. The Skillet one, once out of the oven made me realise we can do many things with it to make a complete meal.  By adding topping and for me CHEESE… it would be totally different.  This can be a wonderful breakfast carb as well.  IMG-20151116-WA0019

Fong Mei Leng’s Dutch Pancake were much more prettier then mine…  Looks more Spunky Dory don’t you think?

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She used a spunky dory machine as well and hers looked like this.IMG-20151116-WA0022

Gorgeous I might say!

Thank you Fong Mei Leng for mentioning Dutch Pancakes today.  I might have it tomorrow as well.

The Gurkha Restaurant – 27 First Floor, Jalan Tun Tan Siew Sin, Kuala Lumpur

A sudden spontaneous trip to Kuala Lumpur especially to an area I consider rather seedy and I wouldn’t even think of going happened on Sunday.  Despite the rain and all the foreigners around I braved it with my Nepalese friend Diwash and walked through the throngs of people that at one split moment I felt I was in Bangalore.

So here I was right in front of the restaurant that looked like some 70s flashback and I trodded up the stairs… and behold.. I was in Nepal.  The restaurant wall were covered with Nepalese art and photos of Heroes of yesteryear, Kings from a hundred years ago as well as Heroes from History.   I was told who was who and what they contributed to the country.  It was a nice setting.

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The restaurant is rather well spaced and since it was early by Nepalese eating times, we were the only ones there.  So we ordered.

The first time I had Nepalese food was in Melbourne about 10 years ago.  The second time was early this year when a little shop opened near my house and I excitedly went quite often and then the CLOSED!  Just like that.

So I was quite excited because this restaurant had a bigger variety then the one that was near my house.  So of course we ordered Momos.

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Now Momos are like little Xiu Long Baos minus the finer skin and of course this has a slight spicy flavor.  It is pure meat and is always eaten in tens. That is ten pieces per person.  This I learnt from Santosh Ghimire my neighbor.    Momos are usually made with Pork, Chicken or Vegetables.  I have so far only eaten Chicken  Momos.

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Now the difference between a Momo and a Xiu Long Bao is there is practically no soup within the dumpling.  The meat is heavier because there is nothing added to it except pure meat.  I could never eat ten momos at one seating, but I could manage five if I had nothing else to go with it. I think they look so luscious in the photo above.

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The next was Chicken Chaumin.  This is a Nepalese version of fried noodles.  So far I have had three different versions and they all tasted equally nice.  There is that slight spiciness from the chillies as well as a bit of sourness and the slightly charred taste (Wok Hei) gives it that last bit of kick and flavor.  I wish they would add a bit more vegetables because mine just had too much chicken I feel.  But then that’s just me.

I am keen to know what noodles they use in Nepal because they use the normal noodles we have available in the markets.  I am sure it is different.  I once had Buffalo Chaumin but it was like eating chewy rocks!  I did think the chicken was a tad bit too fried that it became a trite dry.  But if complemented everything.

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Chicken Choyla was the next dish.  Bloody spicy is the first word that comes to mind.  I like picking and since it came with toothpicks on the side, I was quite excited.  I had a pair of chopsticks though.  It needed to go with rice that’s for sure.  It was salty as well because it was meant to go with liquor on a cold night.

Nepalese food tends to be a bit salty.  Chicken Choyla had onions and chilies and had a nice refreshing tang to it.    Actually while I grumble that it was spicy,  as I am describing this, my mouth is actually salivating.  I did find the meat a little over fried.  I wonder if it is necessary to do that.  But it was something different.

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Pork Sekuwa was next.  At first sight… PUT OFF!  The sight of fried pork pieces with fat and skin didn’t do anything for me.  First mouthful, well it was piping hot.. so we didn’t get much flavor.  Second mouthful, simple ingredients, but everything blended well.  Again this dish would go well if one was drinking that night.  I say simple ingredients because there was not a trace of spice or anything foreign, just salt and pepper and fried on a high flame.

Mind you portions might be smaller then we are usually used to.  So order a few things.

I hope to go there again. There are a few dishes or more that I would like to try.  You can check them out at this website http://lojeenaglobal.com/gurkha_restaurant_drink_details_menu.php

Enter the place with an open mind.  A lot of us tend to look down on the foreigners foods, but trust me, I have been surprised and today I was surprised.

Braving the honking taxis and buses to get there and walking through the rain (because I never run in the rain for fear of falling and looking like a big heap) was worth it.

Simplicity is of the essence here, but the food was really good.

I hope to go again this Thursday! If I do, I will add the photos and explanations to this story.