Tag Archives: cooking with Nicholas

Welcome Seafood – GF, G-15 – G-18 , Asia City , Jalan Coastal, Kota Kinabalu

I seldom enjoy seafood unless it is sashimi. I am sure everyone who knows me or reads my blog knows that. So when the boys decided to take me for  seafood one night while in Kta Kinabalu. I cringed but smiled and said ok.  There were three of them anyhow so I guess I was outnumbered.

When we got there, I noticed there were many shops all lined up selling seafood.  This was not anywhere near the sea I can tell you that. I mean the sea was just walking distance, but still, I’d expect it to be near the sea.  So we walked pass many shops, some full to the brim, some quite full, some quite empty and Welcome Seafood was right at the end of the row. Why we parked right at the first shop still baffles me.

Looking around the restaurant while waiting for a server, it was nice to see all the different races sitting together and having a meal without any consequence.  The ambiance was pretty ordinary.  We were sitting outside and I don’t think there was an air conditioned section because that’s what I was told by three people who wanted to smoke.

Anyhow, they ordered since they knew best.  Looking around again, everyone seemed happy. There were some Koreans around as well and they seemed happy as well.  All in all everyone looked happy. I was just hoping everything would not be so fishy and prawny that I would be sick.

20160406_213958Soup arrived. I wanted Hum Choy Soup with seafood of course.  The soup looked refreshing so to speak and didn’t look like a bowl of boiled seafood.  I just didn’t want to taste anything fishy even though it was seafood.

The soup was really good.  They used Sea Bass and it was nice biteable pieces and not fishy at all.  The vegetables remained crunchy and still a tiny bit salty.  It was truly tasty and I could have had it on its own without anything else.  The slight tinge of sourness gave the soup that bit of kick.  I was hooked. I finished the soup when everyone stopped picking at it.

20160406_214143Next was the Clams.  Clams I don’t mind  but they need to be big because I have no patience fossicking through small clams and finding them empty.  It still baffles me how people eat those small clams you get around this side of Malaysia because it is a capital waste of time to me.

The clams had that bit of spiciness that was enough to want you to pick up the empty shells and lick it or suck it, whatever you might do in these situations.  I didn’t do any of those things of course, but I might have.  The sauce was good enough on its known and the freshness of the clams added to the just right flavor.  I think we could have ordered a bigger portion.

The Butter Prawns tasted nice. I didn’t pick at the prawns because I didn’t really like to mess up my fingers.  The sauce tasted nice with the rice.  Everyone sat and tucked in properly while I picked at the curry leaves.  It was tasty trust me.  I wouldn’t have minded if the prawns were peeled and perhaps a bigger size. These were just too small to mess around with.


Ok I am fussy!

The fish was very good.  Although I am not one for fish with bones and all the rest, this was nicely fried and the fish was fresh. The Thai sauce that was poured all over it simply lifted it to another level.  This was enjoyable.  I cannot seem to remember what fish it was for some reason, but it would be something I would reorder.  Again I think the fish was a bit small, but it was crispy and tasty.  Size matters ok.

20160406_214534The slices of onions and bits of slivered mango and chilly, tossed into the sweet chilly garlicky sauce gave the flavor an uplift. The whole dish was polished clean.

20160406_214550I needed my Veggie fix.  Everyone I knew I Kota Kinabalu didn’t eat vegetables.  When I go out with any of them, I would be the one picking the vegetables from their plates and eating it.  This seafood and Siew Pak Choy medley was perfect for me.  At  least the prawns were peeled and the fish complemented the vegetables very well.  I ate all the vegetables because no one really wanted it.  I love my vegetables.

Then dessert came.  I was told this is only in Kota Kinabalu, but I am sure it is available here in West Malaysia as well.  This was a nice end to a rather heavy meal so late at night. This jellied coconut was just the right temperature and it was just nice sweetness. This I enjoyed as well.


They remove the coconut water and jelly it with agar agar as well as adding some coconut milk before pouring it back, so the hot jelly mixture hardens and also gets infused with the coconut flesh inside.  The result is rather incredulous.

It was truly satisfying I must say of the whole meal.  I would still prefer to eat before 7 pm at the very latest but I don’t think I ever did when I was there.  Still it was a good experience.

I would go back for sure for seafood. These are many places there as well.  And strangely it was so close to where I stayed.  Everything can be so close in Kota Kinabalu and you only realize it when you drive around and suddenly you’re back home.



Cooking and Baking Classes for June 2016

Rolled Pineapple Tarts

Sunday June 5th  2 pm to 5 pm

I’m doing two types of Rolled Tarts now  only because I have a nice recipe. You will learn two types of Rolled Tarts.  Please look at the photos.

You will learn;

  1. Two types of Pastries
  2. Two types of Rolled Tarts
  3. Pineapple Jam

This is a fully hands on class.  Please expect to do some work.

Price Per Person: $95 (Class will commence once there are 5 students)


Sunday June 12th 2 pm to 5 pm

Zaku Zaku Croquant Puff with Salted Egg Crème


I was asked to do this class for a 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.


So here it is.  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)


Puff Pastry

Saturday June 18th  2 to 5 pm

Learn to make Puff Pastry from scratch.  It is quite easy once you get the hang of it.  You will learn;


Sausage Rolls

  1. Puff Pastry
  2. Sausage Rolls – the real ones
  3. Tuna Foldovers
  4. Old Fashioned Sardine Rolls


Price Per Person: $100 (Class will commence once there are 6 students)


Nasi Dagang Class

Wednesday June 22nd 2.30 to 5.30

Learn to make Nasi Dagang and its accompaniments.

You will learn to prepare;

  1. Nasi Dagang
  2. Ayam Percik
  3. Sayur Loteh – A wonderful spicy sweet salad
  4. Gulai Ikan Tongkol

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

Please email cookingwithnicholas@gmail.com to book a place or whatsapp 0166827465.  Classes are held in 70 Road 14/24 Petaling Jaya.



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.



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;


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


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.


  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.


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



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


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

  1. Dundee Cake
  2. Old English Rich Fruit Cake


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

Salty Spicy Chicken (Uppu Chicken Paratel)

About six or seven years ago I took the train into KL and for some reason I got down at Sentral and took a Taxi to go further into KL…  Till this day I cannot think why but I did it, probably to meet a friend from Australia or perhaps the Netherlands.  I cannot seem to remember.  So I got into this taxi with an old Indian driver and he started talking to me.  I am talkative in taxis, I hate being quiet all through the journey to my destination be it a long or short one gazing into my phone or something like that.  This man was in his 70s, I know he was much older then my father.  He asked me what I did, so I told him and he was quite excited and gave me this recipe.


His mother used to cook it when he was a kid and his late wife would make it for him and his children who were now working in big places and seldom had time for him.  That is why he drove a taxi to rid his boredom.  This recipe had only Five ingredients;  Chicken pieces, a bowl of cut onions, a bowl of dried chillies, some oil and a bit of salt.  I of course argued it might be rather insipid and boring, but he assured me it would be really nice.  He missed it he told me and he gave me this recipe so I will try it.  Of course it was not a difficult recipe to remember as he did drum it into my head a few times to make sure I didn’t forget.

I got out of the taxi and promised I would try this recipe and he assured me I would be happy.

Well it took me all this time to actually get a chook and the rest of the ingredients but I never forgot the recipe of course.  Yesterday I cooked it for the Assunta Nuns as they have no cook at the moment.  So here goes.   Please note, I added a bit of turmeric just to give it some color, which was quite unnecessary.

Here is the recipe:


Chicken                                               about 1.8 to 2 kilos – cut into 24 pieces.  You may cut it smaller but I detest having to go through small bones. Marinade the chicken with a little salt and ½ teaspoon of Turmeric.

Onions                                                  4 to 5 large onions cut into segments

Dried Chillies                                      20 or so

Salt                                                        to taste

Oil                                                           ¼ cup

20150817_081131Potatoes                                              3 or 4 – I added this just because I like potatoes.                                                                     Boil till done.



  1. Heat Oil and add in onions. Fry the onions till they are slightly translucent.20150817_080003
  2. Add in the dried chillies and fry till the onions are really done. This will ensure the Chillies have enough time to let out its flavor.20150817_080633
  3. Add in the chicken and stir till it is cooked. You might need to add in a bit of water if it is too dry. Fire has to be medium steady.  Fry till chicken is cooked and add in salt.  This took me about 30 minutes or so.  Add in potatoes and cooked for about 10 more minutes.20150817_08254020150817_082603

I was quite shocked with the end result.  It was really nice.  Simple and delicious.  Yus reckoned the potatoes should be fried.  I think she might be right because it somehow didn’t look so nice.

My walking encyclopedia Susheela says it is called Uppu Chicken Paratel.  Uppu meaning Salt.  This dish actually goes well with beer and liquor I am told.

I will be cooking this dish for 120 people next month. Let’s see how they handle this.

So there you go. If you walk in the footsteps of a stranger, you’ll find thing you never knew you never knew..Pocahontas sang that!

It’s Mooncake Time – Let’s make Lotus Paste!

Today I did something I never thought I would do. I made Lotus Paste from scratch because I have a private class coming up and my student wants to learn it from scratch as the country she comes from, well, they don’t sell it like they do here.

So I trotted off to the market and bought all of Ah Leng’s  300 gm Lotus Seeds, while she looked at me suspiciously like I didn’t know what I was getting into or what I was buying.

“This is for mooncake cake,” she exclaimed. I nodded my head, because I was looking at the newly opened box of Russet Potatoes.

“You better ask your mummy,” she went on.  I gave her the look and her staff laughed.  Then she went on to tell them how I bought the wrong things once long ago and was asked to return it and she didn’t want to take it back and my mum came and told her off.  She took back the stuff after that.  I was 8.

This is what I hate about going to the market over here because they all know me since I was a kid and the still think I am a kid.

Ah Leng still thinks the 25 salted eggs bought last year was for my mums Mooncakes. Now what rot is that?  Mum can’t even make a Mooncake!

Anyhow, back to Lotus Paste Preparation.  Now be warned, this is hard work.  I have the aching right arm now to prove it.  So here is my simple recipe for basic Lotus Paste.


300 gm                        Lotus Seed – Skinless

120 to 150 ml              Peanut Oil

200 gm                        Sugar – More if you prefer it or to preserve the paste longer

1 tbsp                          Maltose

Salt a pinch (Optional)


I bought skinless Lotus Seeds because I could not be bothered having to crack them opened but I am told the ones with the skin is tastier.

So here goes my method in Photos.


Boil the lotus seeds for about 10 to 15 minutes. Please do not look down on my pot. This pot has been around since I was single digits and it was a second hand pot as well bought from some expat.  Serves me well and is the best compared to my Royal Doulton and all.  Once it is time.


Notice the seeds are still whole. This is where the fun begins.  Cool the seeds down under running water and leave to drain properly.  Next job requires nimble fingers.


Thank God for Yus nimble fingers. You have to remove this little green shoots because it is rather bitter.  I know.. I tried it just to see if this was true.  Very Bitter!



Quite pretty in the orange basket.  So once this is done.  We boil the seeds again for about 45 minutes to an hour.


Do check for softness. Some of my seeds were softer then the other so you need to check this properly.  Often a time I would pick up something really soft and next minute Yus would pick up something hard.  So do check as food processing it might be a problem.  Drain and leave to cool for about 1/2 hour.

Food Process the seeds little by little.  I used my Vitamix and it made such strange sounds and even had a burning rubber smell so I stopped.  Next time Food Processor.  Make sure it is fine or not you will have to run it through a sieve and that will be messy plus a pain in the you know where.

So here is the food processed Lotus Seeds.



Yus had to use her hands to remove the rest as the Vitamix is rather narrow.  Real messy job I have to say.

Now we start to cook the paste.


Heat the oil on low flame.  I only used a single flame Use only a bit of the oil.  Add in 1/3 cup or so of the sugar once the oil is slightly hot.




Start stirring rather quickly and ensure it does not burn too quickly.  Fire has to be really small if you are a first timer.


Now even this might be a tad bit dark for some but I decided to go ahead and add in the paste as it was not burning nor emitting any burnt smell.


Add in the sugar as well and make sure you stir it through properly.  Hold the pan at all times when you are stirring as the wok or pot will move as well.  This is the hard part of preparing the paste.



Use a spatula to scrape the sides from time to time.  Stir non stop till it thickens.  Then add in the oil little by little in perhaps four to five batches.


Please notice there is a bit of oil at the bottom of the pan.  Pour in this amount  four or five times once the paste becomes like this.  Stir till the oil is well mixed and becomes a lump again.


Once the oil is well mixed, add in the Maltose.  Stir this till it is well mixed.  Make sure there are no bits of maltose within the paste.  Carry on stirring till the paste becomes a dough and doesn’t stick very much.  Don’t forget to use a scrapper from time to time to clean the sides.


This took roughly about an hour and a bit.  Note too I have a steady flame to work with.  Stirring all the time is a pain, thank God Yus was around to help me with the photo bits.

Do not rush to do this and never do it over a big flame.  I left it to cool and wrapped it up with cling wrap.

Let’s see if I am in the mood to try Pandan Lotus Paste next.

Happy Cooking and don’t say I didn’t warn you!