Thursday, June 18, 2009

Yakitori Chicken

Yakitori chicken

I've not been that busy, but I've certainly been lazy. On the pretext of taking my daughter (the 'pearl in our hand', as somebody described it, is back on winter break) out to eat her fav food, I've not been cooking except for Wey who has tuition at night and can't come out with us.

Talking of tuition, I was disappointed and dismayed after talking to Wey's English teacher yesterday. Wey and I had a big argument a few weeks ago when I sat him down to work on his English. For his PMR exams in Oct, Dr Jekyl and Mr Hyde is one of the two books he has to cover, the other being Robinson Crusoe. He claimed that they haven't been asked to read the novels; he doesn't even have a copy of the novels. What they are using this year is two workbooks on Dr Jekyl. School just started Monday, so I went to the teacher who confirmed that the kids aren't required to read the novels because by the time they go through the workbooks, they'd know how to answer the questions. When I protested, she said they have no time (didn't they have 3 years, Form 1 to 3? And the novels, used by other schools, are in very simple English which a primary school kid would have no difficulty reading?) to read the books because the classes are big, the kids cannot be bothered, there are too many other subjects to cover and literature makes up only 10% of the total score. She then advised that I can always send my son for tuition. I was stunned. I don't think I endeared myself to her, because I told her as graciously as I could that if I was teaching, I'd make sure all the students read the novel first because what is the point of teaching literature if the students are not taught to appreciate the beauty of the language, the story, the prose? Her final word was that what everybody wants is to get high marks in exams so the school caters to that want. And so I rest my case, that education in Malaysia has gone to the dogs. I don't blame the teachers as much as I blame the schools and the Education Dept and parents, those who insist on all As, who regard any grade less than an A as a loss of face. Education here isn't about knowledge, it's about how many As the students can score. It isn't about learning important and relevant useful subjects because if it is, then students won't have to struggle with 11 subjects (12 if you do Chinese), of which the three subjects morals, civics and life skills, as far as I am concerned ARE A BLOODY WASTE OF TIME. Make that four subjects, because history is also a waste of time since it is 90% Malaysian history made up to brainwash the kids on the monarchy, our founding fathers and the government. If I am the Education Minister and I am truly concerned about education, I would review the present syllabus without any agenda but with a single-minded goal to make education truly meaningful, enjoyable and knowledge and skills-acquiring rather than score-seeking. Besides those 3 or 4 subjects, I would also throw out geography too, and replace all of them with a new subject that emphasizes geography, geo science, environmental science and ecology. This is what the future generation needs to know, the limitation of the earth's resources and how we should manage and preserve them, instead of where rubber trees are planted in Malaysia and the names of the tribal dances and different musical instruments of the natives.

So to the Chinese who are fighting to teach Science and Math in Chinese, and the Malays who want those two subjects in Malay, I say "Boot to the Head". The whole education system is rotten and we are fighting about teaching those subjects vernacularly.

Okay, that's some huffing I've done. If you still want food, here's what I whipped up for Wey's dinner tonight: yakitori chicken. If I had the time, I'd have skewered some shiitake mushrooms, bell peppers and even chicken livers, which is popular in yakitori joints in Japan. You do need a very hot grill for yakitori or you'll end up with a skewer of steamed meat. Make the sauce well ahead because you'll need some sauce to marinade the chicken with.

I think I need some leong cha to cool my head.

Yakitori Chicken
300g chicken thighs
2 stalks of leeks
wooden skewers, soaked in water 30 minutes
teriyaki sauce

1. Cut the chicken (with or without skin) into 4 cm squares, the leeks into 4 cm lengths.

2. Use 2 T of the teriyaki sauce to marinade the chicken for at least an hour.

3. Skewer the chicken and leeks alternately. It's good to start and end with a piece of leek because it holds the meat in.

4. Fire up that grill and grill the chicken on low heat for about 2-3 minutes each side, then increase the heat to high and baste with the teriyaki sauce for another minute or two. Be careful not to burn the chicken; the sugar in the sauce can burn easily and taste bitter. Serve with rice, or better still, with beer.

Teriyaki Sauce
1/4 cup mirin
1/2 cup sake
3 T sugar
1/4 cup light soy sauce
2 pinches of dashi (optional, but I like the extra umami taste)

Put everything except the dashi into a small pot and simmer over low heat for about 30 minutes (add the dashi towards the end of cooking) until sauce is thickened. Remember that the sauce will thicken further upon cooling. I got about 5 T sauce for this recipe.


Simply June said...

Mmm...this looks delish...will be perfect for my next summer bbq! Btw, I've got a big pot of leong cha....send some your way? =P

mott said...

You're right about throwing away a lot of useless subject. But then..what would they do with all that time??? HA HA HA..just kidding.

Interesting..this Yakitori sauce. I have never come across it. Only Teriyaki.

Thanks for sharing...

Joshua said...

That's right! (bout education) Hope you were one of those that wrote in to the Education Dept when they were requesting feedback about limiting SPM subjects to 10. Hehe. This 'kiasu' mentality is getting a bit too far. I think you're spot on about the issues and hope there'll be more parents like you!

Anonymous said...

Gosh, I have neglected my daughter. You know so much what Wey is and is not studying. I go, 'oh, really ah' when I read your post. Have to ask Eva later. I totally agree with you on Civics, Moral and KH and I am sure Eva does too.
Say hi to Yi.

Lily Anette said...

The way the Education system in Malaysia is actually producing Robotic "A" students but their depth of knowledge of a subject may only be an "E" grade. I agree with you that learning should be a gradual progress, touching in depth and it is sad to see that the teachers, who may have been the product of this 'to memorize and to spot exam questions' only mentality to continue the trend for the next generation of students.

Oh By the way, love the Yakitori and also the plate/bowl! Always!

zurin said...

AAhhhhh my pet topic! :) education. it sucks..By todays 'A' standards I'm an imbecile.

btw..the chicken looks thats waht I call an A!

terri@adailyobsession said...

simplyjune: yes yes, send me

mott: what would they do? go fishing! seriously, the kids hardly hav time by the time they come home by 4 pm in the afternoon. i used to come home by 1 pm n i could climb trees n read n write. they spend all tt time in school learning very little about a lot of different things. isn't it better to focus on important subjects? one is english. i hear ppl say "ten on eight" when i ask the time. it was amusing (and sad), the person meant 10 minutes after 8.

my daughter's friend said tt in australia, they basically enjoyed their school years from grades 1 until 9, seeking out their talents n honing on the basic subjects n having a good time, as all kids shd, n only from grades 10 to 12 do they get serious n even so their system is not rigid so tt u can switch subjects when u want to. our kids spend so much time on so many subjects tt by the time they are to enter uni, many don't want to bc they are so tired of studying, n studying in such boring ways--mug, mug, mug. my son loves science but he has only been into the school lab 2x in 2 1/2 years!

tnx for pointing out about the sauce. gosh, i hav some sharp readers here.

josh:i didn't write in, but i fully support tt limit, n tt's one thing the edu dept has done right! it was getting ridiculous n meaningless, there were subjects like english for science, considered a full subject!indeed, it was all about kiasu n quality not quantity.

r: i know so much? he gives me surprises/shocks every day n i wish i don't hav to know so much!i'm sure the teachers complain about me! i bumped into eva in the staff room, n i bet she's a teachers' pet. the only time my son goes to the staff room is when simon disciplines him.
u only agree on the 3 subjects? u don't agree sejarah n geography need to be revised?? honestly, our kids hav become jack of all subjects n master of none. only very few disciplined n responsible kids can get any good from our education.n tt usually are the girls, so pity the boys bc this system just leaves them unmotivated n uneducated.

terri@adailyobsession said...

lilyann: ur kids r lucky, i bet they love school. if they don't, tell them u r sending them to malaysia.

rote learning is a british thing, it has its merits (like if u r a pharmacy student, u better can memorize) but here we apply it to evreything! i think only math is better-taught, in chinese school, but even this subject is 'abusedly-taught' in chinese schools bc they teach way ahead, like 2 years ahead (my son is doing what i did in form 5, n stats was what i did in form 6!). this is so kiasu! only a handful can grasp it, but they don't care as long as they have taught derivatives or whatever difficult topic. tt's why when ppl tell me ttss, the top chinese school, teaches 3 years ahead of other schools, i tell tehm so what? u may be prepared for year 1 uni math but what happens in year 2? knowing ahead doesn't prepare u all the way? it's how well u know the subject! it's like i can teach a newbie how to make a wedding cake but what's the use when she can't even whip egg whites!aiya!

and ya, spotting questions is a very honed skill here, n i daresay top students hav sharpened tt skill!the schools here also separate the classes so tt top students are given extra classes n 'good' teachers. in the end, what they turn out are those who are willing to work hard, but the lazy n intelligent ones are left behind.i guess tt's life.

haha, the bowl was bought in tokyo. there's a bigger one, i shd take it out.

zurin: but in our time, the standard was much higher! i know students who score A in english n can't speak properly!!

we aren't the only ones thinking this way. as fast as i reply, i am getting comments so this subject is hot. but i don't this hish is the one who'll change the system for the better. what a joke
oh, my yakitori phots r taken by my girl woth her nikon D90. so much diff ya, in color, depth, clarity...

NEE said...

you are totally right on the rotten edu system in malaysia. Imagine us on the university end, the last stop for all these kids before they are released out there to menace the world.

We get the kids that are pushed all the way from primary school education which is what you are talking about to secondary school education which is also not doing much and expect university to create miracle. you dont know the amount of rubbish we have to collect. Some young engineers graduating cant even speak proper English and stutter "boleh cakap bm ka", some fail almost every year but this 'wonderful' system still wants to them graduated much as we dont want to release. they tell us to be nice, to take pity on them, to counsel them (in my language to baby them). Go imagine!

Btw tat looks good. you think it is good to invest in a nice table top griller?!

Anonymous said...

Gee, you are sharp. ;).
Yes, Sejarah and Geography too. I used to hate these two subjects. I just don't connect with them. Eva has no interest in them too. She thought these 2 subjects will not be included in PMR. That's how much she cares.

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Anonymous said...

I agree that many PMR subjects are useless and irrelevant, but it shouldn't be that big a deal as the subjects are easy enough to cope with anyway. It boils down to the student's effort. Hello, its just PMR.

In my time we did go through the entire novel texts, even the SPM novel which was much thicker. And I was in a Chinese Independent School where we have other heavier subjects and a larger workload to deal with. Again, it depends on the student's effort. I guess it also depends on the school on whether they want to push the students or not.

The A issue? It boils down to the student and the parents as well, if they decide not to care, they just won't. Then there would be no pressure.

zurin said...

Terri, oh ..actually I meant judging by todays number of A's students get It makes me look like an imbecile!:) (which m not of course :D)

Oh yea I remember all those trees I climbed and the longkangs I crawled thru! (m feeling nostalgic now)...even my boys have never climbed a tree. can u believe that.?
agree with ur every word to the last 2day are nt even a jack of all trades let alone a master of one...

pendidikan moral is a joke! school is a pain and teachers are misguided...

Plain Jane said...

very well said! :-)

Alvin said...

Hi, Terri, I totally agree with you. I'm a form 5 student long ago and the thing I hate most about education is that the put SPM with all those useless subjects where example Moral, arts, and stuff. I didn't do very well because I took 13 subjects and I was being looked down upon. Seriously I don't think its the education department's fault, its the people's mentality. We as Malaysian also have this culture of blaming here and there. It doesn't solve anything. They only look at A's for SPM or PMR. My brother on the other hand, he took 14 subjects. Got 13 A1 and 1 A2 and It was a shock for me and he got all the praising. And we basically went to tuition literally everyday. Some even 3 times a day. Hopefully something has to change in our attitude towards education. By the way, nice post on the food. It looks really similiar to Australian BBQ / Grill mix together.

Hong Ming said...

And that's why I didn't do well in secondary school. Because of the education then being too 'shallow'. =D

mott said...

OHHH! Phew! Lucky you corrected it.. I was going to hunt for it at my Asian Grocers...ready to beat them down, if they didn't have it!


J2Kfm said...

delish stuff, your crisp shot made the chicken looks even more delectable!

Sugar Bean said...

Wow, you're good in grilling food. I haven't tried that before. But teriyaki sauce with chicken definitely taste good in all occasion. :) Thanks for the recipe!

ganache-ganache said...

Come to KIS, my friend ! My girls read beautifully :)

Anonymous said...

Education in Asia is the same.All kaisu parents.Senting their children for tuition fr. kinder to A level. Saw an ad.for tuition for U.student.My law who was new fr. UK thought 30 of his students were cheating as they had the same content, coma and full stop.When he checked on the textbk.It was word for word from the textbk. They were memorizing the all text. Students required him to taught only the area which is require in the exam. Do not waste their time.MBA in a famous U in Asia. They can not think independently and they sent their works to their parents to be corrected before submitted their works to the U. We the parent do not want our children to fail in their life. Are we doing the right thing????

MARLENE said...

Terri, you hit the nail right on the head about the nonsense they're teaching in Malaysian schools these days. I spent 10 years regurgitating the so called history of Malaya/Malaysia if you can call that studying.

I left the country and picked up a real history book, from an independent source, published outside of Malaysia. I can't believe I wasted an entire decade learning lies, concocted to present Malaysia the government deemed was the "truth".

As for moral studies etc etc, what utter nonsense. I wish they included more practical subjects - how to manage your money, improve emotional intelligence, creativity (as opposed to learning by rote) etc etc.


irene-serenity said...

Thanks 4 feedg me with the msian edu system as main course & yakitori cken as dessert, the main course isn't easy to digest, u have spoken out 4 o d mothers, must vote 4 u as our spokeswoman!

triShie said...

MMMMmmm!! no kiddin', but i could taste it the mo i saw ur pic!!

TeaLady said...

Well, the schools there aren't the only ones where the students are suffering for a good education. And I use the term 'good' loosely. Here in the states there are so many required national tests - IOWA, LEAP, etc that that is what the teachers teach - the tests. And then the student's don't really get what they need - a real education. I stand by you, Terri. Education today is not what it should be. Glad my last one is out of the educational system.

However. that yakitori looks like it would put anyone in a good mood. It looks wonderful.

Precious Pea said...

I am planning for a BBQ and I know this recipe is a MUST!!

terri@adailyobsession said...

nee:am sure u must put up with a lot of rubbish. yes, i think a table top grill is good if your family is not big, def worth getting one.

r: but i liked geography, i really did n still do. in my time geog text books were very interesting, not FACT books tt required robotic memorizing like now :D

anon: yes, i agree tt a lot of effort is needed. but boys have a slower maturity n the majority aren't interested in studying when they are below 16, 17. these kids really get sidelined by our system which emphasizes on quantity not quality.

zurin: high 5, sista!

alvin: er, i'm confused. ur bro went thru the same grinder n did better so ur point is the system failed u or u failed urself if u didn't do well??

but i think u mean not every9one benefits frm all tt tuition. i know i saved a lot of tuition $. my daughter didn't need tuition except for BM in primary 6, and some math in form 5. my boys also didn't have much tuition, for totally opposite reasons: tuition was a waste of time bc they couldn't be bothered if their marks improved or not.i personally don't believe in tuition n i try my best not to get sucked into the whole tuition thing. i much prefer my kids to do their best, which may not be as good as if they had tuition, but as long as they tried hard n get above 70%, i'm happy.

terri@adailyobsession said...

ming: u could have at least TRIED harder.

mott: welcome:)

j2fkm: it was my girl's work :)

sugar bean: welcome:)

ganache: but i hear the school is very 'relaxed' n for the upper sec levels, i'm not sure if tt's what i want for my kids...

anon: aiya! but i think we shdn't jsut emphasize on grades. a successful person is measured not only by his academic or career achievemts. n we the parents always say tt but don't mean it by expecting too much frm our kids academically.

marlene: totally agree with u

irene: i'm d typical asian, talk only!

trishie: thnx!

tealady: but no way is the education in the usa as bad as here, no way...

pp: hey, when r u going to melb again?? winter blues sent u running back? or is it bc u were missing ur furry babies?

Domestic Diva said...

Hi Terri, I understand your frustration with school in Malaysia. I do recall growing up in Malaysia; I always have problems getting As as I do not memorize word for word in the text. Despite the fact that I got the answers right, the points given were always 1 or 2 shy from the perfect 10 as a result of it not being a "copied" text. However, after attending graduate school in the US where I am residing now, I found that professors here do appreciate your understanding of the materials taught and they do not expect anyone to hand in "copied" text in exams. In fact, I did very well in my graduate school. I remember how I used to get reprimanded by teachers from school for questioning things regarding a topic taught in school; particularly when it comes to history subject. If you are going to send your son elsewhere for college, then I can safely say that you do not have to worry too much now as things will change when he is in a foreign country and he will be able to excel.Best of luck to you. Funny that you would post a recipe for yakitori. I lived in Tokyo for 4 months, doing my MBA exchange there and Yakitori is one of my fav food in Shinjuku-dori's Yakitori-ya.

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