Wednesday, January 26, 2011

New Kum Den, Melbourne

No new dishes the last/this week because I was/am knocked out totally by laryngitis since last Tues that gave me chills, fever, joint aches, cough, lost of voice and something I've never had before--sticky eyelids. I've been waking up everyday since last Sunday with swollen, sensitive eyes glued by some icky discharge and I hate that feeling. The doc said it's related to my flu because the ears, eyes and nose are connected. If it's bad, it can go to the brains too. So don't be stubborn like me. Run to the docs before your eyelids get glued.

I haven't even started on CNY baking. I know all of you have already baked and packed your bottles of pineapple tarts, prawn crackers, cashew nut cookies and all those yummy snacks. I haven't even shopped! I am feeling slightly better today so I think I'll start baking tomorrow. I have a couple of new recipes to share so stay put. In the meantime, here's a post on a meal I had in Melbourne last month.

This was the graduation celebration dinner we had with three other sets of parents (and a grandma) and the graduates' friends at a restaurant in Chinatown called New Kum Den. There were 2 dozens of us so we had 2 tables. The mood was very happy and hopeful. I think for parents it was a relief to wash their hands off a financial burden and for the graduates it was a relief to not have all-nighters and deadlines. I was missing the rest of my family, especially Hub, who couldn't get away from work. It felt odd to be there without him because we celebrate all our kids' 'events' together. Anyway, the food:

Chicken with a salted egg yolk batter, pretty good.

Stewed pork was okay I think.

Garlic kai lan, never fails.

Silky beancurd  with crabmeat and prawns, good.

Sweet and hot clams with Chinese crullers for the sauce. The thing about clams is that they're mostly shells. I've come to the conclusion that clams are best eaten at home, a plate to a person. Otherwise it's just too unsatisfying.

Mixed veg with scallops. 

Roasted duck. The duck was chopped too big and didn't taste good or bad. No matter how many times it was spun around on the lazy susan, it remained more than half uneaten. It left me wondering whether it was the chef's fault or the duck's.

The fish slices had the usual bland bi-carb of soda texture and taste. But then again, maybe all Chinese restaurants in Melbourne use too much bicarb of soda. Bicarb of soda makes food tender, preserves it, masks staleness, swells meat up so they look thicker but for all that, the taste and flavor of the meat'll be gone.

The free dessert. There were 12 of us at each table. This amount is good for one person. Whadde.

A big "thank you"  again to Amanda's parents who generously footed the bill even though it was agreed that we'd split it. 


Chris said...

Not to be rude, but it is a rather weird name that could easily be ridiculed. Hope the owners realize it too.

the lunch guy said...

sign me up for silky tofu and the clams both of which are a favorite of mine.

the clams are rather cheap here in bkk and i buy a few kg at a time. i either simply steam them with butter herbs and garlic (euro style) or i steam them and then make white clam sauce for linguine.

white clam sauce:

steam/simmer clams (2kg is good for 4 servings of this sauce) in a moderate amount of boiling water with sea salt, onion, garlic, 1/3 of a lemon (do not squeeze it), black pepper corns, fresh parsley and bay leaf.

drain and RESERVE the cooking liquid! let the clams cool until you can handle them.

remove the clams from the shells keeping aside a few in the shell as a garnish for each served dish. (trick: use a half of a clam shell to do this. it will fit into the other shells perfectly and not damage the clams when you cut them form the shell.)

finely mince onion, shallots and leeks (proportions are up to you and what is available). you can use garlic but not a lot. my mom never did. i do.

rinse and finely chop the parsley, flat leafed Italian if you have it, curly if you don't. (you will need at least a cup for 4 servings.)

melt a good amount of butter or olive oil margarine substitute in a small sauce pot.
(note: if cooking for 4 people i use 4 ounces/120 grams of butter.)

add the onions, leeks and shallots. sweat until clear.

add the shucked clam meats, and cover with the reserved broth. (1st strain the broth through a fine sieve to remove any sand.)

bring back to a simmer. DO NOT BOIL.

add the parsley. (for 4 servings i would use no less than a cup of minced parsley, it is the 2nd main ingredient and a lot of the resulting flavor.)

simmer until the flavors are all mingling. turn off the heat and cover.

either set aside for later, or cook your pasta and garnish with the sauce and a few reserved clams in their shell and a wedge of fresh lemon (not lime). season with fresh ground black pepper to taste. (sometimes i also garnish with sliced black Spanish olives and toasted pine nuts.)

note: this is a very light sauce that is meant to be used sparingly as you would a pesto. simply toss the noodles in the sauce and spoon some clams on top.

this is my late mother's recipe and like so many things she used to cook it is simple and fast and relies on a few good ingredients only.

for a main or lunch serve with a salad and garlic bread. it is also good in small quantities as a starter for a heavier Mediterranean style meal.

i have tried to "pretty this up" and i have failed miserably. it is meant to be a straight forward, plain and easy dish. great on a rainy day. K.I.S.S. = keep it simple stupid.

my mom also kept cans of minced baby clams for when they were not in the market. the tins in the USA are similar in size to small tuna fish tins. 2 of these and a 6 ounce bottle of broth is enough to make 4 meals or 6 to 8 starters. she would augment them with a bottle of clam juice. sometimes she would freeze left over clam broth for days when she had no fresh clams. this works very well.

terri@adailyobsession said...

chris: we actually wondered too what the name was trying to project lol!

lunchguy:thank you, david. i love linguine with clams. problem here is getting good clams bc i don't trust those in the market--you don't know where they got the clams. but i think a good source can be the seafood restaurants so i'll get them there one day. if done right, this is my fav pasta dish. i def will note your recipe n tips")

Cassie Khaw said...


New Kum Den doesn't have good food. All good food are in the suburb. Next time can try Supper Inn a few alleys down where New Kum Den is, they actually give fresh Coral Trout (liked the real 7 star garoupa) for that spring onion ginger fish hot pot.

Aminah Ambrose said...

Hi Terri,
Congrats n wishing u Gong Xi Fa Cai..

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