Filipino Style Steamed Golden Pomfret with Sesame Oil & Soy Sauce

I just realised it’s been a while since I last posted a recipe for harassed working mothers. I know, I know, “steamed fish” hardly sounds like an easy recipe but trust me, it is.

The star of this dish is a fish known in Malaysia as ‘bawal emas’ or golden pomfret. This fish is known in the Philippines as pampano or pompano. For best results, use the freshest fish that you can find (clear eyes, bright red gills, firm texture)…or, at the very least, cook the fish immediately upon reaching home (i.e. the same day you bought it).

Filipino Style Steamed Golden Pomfret with Sesame Oil & Soy Sauce


1 pc ikan bawal emas
2-3 inches ginger, peeled and sliced into strips
Daun kuchai (Filipino: kinchay), a bunch about the diameter of a 20-sen coin, washed and cut into ~2″ pcs
Daun bawang (spring onions), 2 or 3 stalks, washed and cut like the daun kuchai

1/3 cup soy sauce
1 tsp sugar
Sesame oil to taste

Water for steaming
Cooking oil (preferably coconut oil or peanut oil)
Salt & pepper for rubbing into fish

1. Clean and gut the fish. Trim the tail and fins using kitchen scissors for easier handling. Make 2-3 diagonal slices on each side. Pat dry with a piece of kitchen towel. Rub with salt and pepper (I used white pepper) inside and out.
2. Take about 1/5 of the ginger/kuchai/daun bawang and stuff inside the fish cavity. Divide the rest of ginger/ kuchai/ daun bawang into 3 portions.
2. Prepare your steamer. Place an appropriate amount of water. Put 1/3 of the ginger/ kuchai/ daun bawang into the water. Allow to boil.
3. Steam the fish for about 10-15 minutes. You might want to flip the fish halfway for more even cooking but do it very carefully. Place the fish into a serving plate.
4. Heat up some oil in a wok/pan. (I used coconut oil.) Stir fry the remaining ginger strips for about half a minute, then add the remaining daun kuchai and daun bawang. Stir fry for another half minute so as to retain the green colour. Take the spices out, leaving behind the oil; arrange over the fish. Save the oil for later.
5. Pour the soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, and a bit of water into a small saucepan and allow to boil for about 30 seconds. Adjust soy sauce/sugar/sesame oil to taste. (Note: I used a bit of water which was used to steam the fish since I only made the sauce after the fish was done steaming.)
6. Reheat oil saved earlier until it’s almost smoking, then pour over the fish.
7. Serve immediately with hot rice.

This recipe is adapted from Overseas Pinoy Cooking.

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The Peak Coffee – My Favourite Local Café

If you’ve been following me on Instagram, you would have noticed my tendency to post lots and lots of food pics. Here’s a little fun fact about those food pics: good number of those food pics actually come from the same place — The Peak Coffee! It goes without saying that the food is fantastic, but I also love its cozy, family-friendly ambience (they even have two separate sections with kid-friendly couches).


The Peak Coffee is the brainchild of two young men, Mujahid and Isa, who both love food. Both of them have traveled the globe extensively and from such travels, they’ve met like-minded individuals…and to cut a long story short, they’ve drawn inspiration from their travels for a café of their own and, thus, The Peak Coffee was born.


This is one of my favourites at The Peak Coffee — the luscious, scrumptious Sriracha Burger. It’s a ginormous piece of deep-fried chicken breast, topped with cheese and lime, smothered in cilantro sriracha sauce, served on a toasted bun.  Incidentally, Sriracha Burger was also the pick of TV3’s ‘Jalan Jalan Cari Makan’, which featured The Peak Coffee on October 2016. (Good choice, JJCM!)


sriracha burger


Pastas are also a firm crowd favourite at The Peak Coffee. My favourite is the soft shell crab pasta, an out-of-this-world pairing of East and West, with a creamy sauce that gives you bites of chili padi heat and the unexpected taste of curry leaves, which goes very well with the perfectly cooked pasta and the crispy-outside-meltingly-soft-inside softshell crab.


A close second favourite of mine is the Grilled Chicken Pasta, perfect for those days when you can’t make up your mind between meat and pasta (why not have both?).


Do take note that The Peak Coffee no longer serves that set meal offering (as mentioned in that particular Instagram post), as they regularly update their menu and promotions, in rapid response to customer requests and expectations. The on-going promotion is the Buy 1 Free 1 offer, which runs until 26th May 2017.


Craving for more local flavour instead? Fret not, as The Peak Coffee has rolled out a new selection of Malaysian delights:


The Peak Coffee serves a wide selection of fantastic freshly brewed coffees (including affogato!), Tamek fruit juices, and delightful milkshakes (the Oreo Milkshake is a definite must-try!!!). In addition, The Peak Coffee also offers a variety of sliced cakes supplied by renowned local bakers.


TPC is located at Jalan Changkat Permata, Taman Permata, 53300 Kuala Lumpur and is open Tuesdays to Sundays 3pm to 11pm (closed on Mondays), except Fridays 4pm to 12 midnight. For inquiries and reservations, call 013 272 2093.
UPDATE 03-Aug-2018: The Peak Coffee has ceased operations.
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Online Learning Survival Tips

Online learning is on the rise, even if the concept is still considered relatively new in Malaysia as of 2017. Its main benefit is, of course, breaking the time/distance barrier. You can be taking an open course from MIT, an Arabic class from Bayyinah’s Dallas campus, or a cake decorating class from London from the comfort of wherever your PC/laptop may be.

online_learningI probably never mentioned this before but my MBA was an online program even though, technically, it is a hybrid online program. Classes, presentations, and midterm exams were all conducted online, but I still had to fly to Penang at the end of every semester to sit for my final exams.

Despite the undeniable benefits that such an online program afforded me, I was painfully aware of the challenges that come along with online learning especially since it took me seven long semesters (3 1/2 years) to finish my MBA due to work and family commitments. And now that I’ve finally completed my MBA, I realise that I would probably benefit other people if I shared some topics on how I managed to survive online learning.

1. Get your mindset right. The right mindset will see you through all the challenges of online learning. You cannot control situations but you have absolute control over how you respond to those situations. Ultimately, you are the only one who can see yourself through this journey. This is very important because there will be numerous times when you’d want to give it all up and it’s only you who can convince yourself to go on. There will be times when you’d get fed up with remote discussions with your groupmates and, again, it’s up to you to go on and find a way to make things work. There’ll be times when your final project seem impossible but only you can get yourself grit your teeth and just go ahead and deal with it.

2. Break it down. Set your goals, identify what needs to be done in order to achieve them, then break everything down into smaller, more manageable chunks. This will keep you from feeling overwhelmed and, at the same time, will help you manage your time better by identifying which things to prioritise and which ones to (possibly) delay.

3. Make the most of networking. Even though this is one journey that you have to do on your own, remind yourself that you are not alone. Make friends with everyone, especially your seniors, as they would be able to give you invaluable tips on how/where to get things done. Be active in your MBA WhatsApp group or your group mailing list, whichever is applicable. Make friends with your lecturers and your program director because they would be able to advise you, as well.

4. Document everything. The mind is a strange thing. It can remember the oddest minute details but can leave out the most critical ones.  Follow up discussions with email summaries, or at the very least, by text/WhatsApp.

5. Set multiple reminders everywhere. Use sticky notes, Google calendar, Evernote, whichever works for you. And set multiple alarms. Do this for everything — discussion dates, thesis submission schedule, meetings with your supervisor, homework deadline, robe pick up date, graduation rehearsal, flight schedules, everything! For more critical tasks, set an alarm, say, a week in advance, plus three days in advance, a day in advance, and an hour in advance. It may sound redundant now but you’ll thank me one day.

6. Avoid the recordings. Most online courses offer the flexibility of accessing recordings, in case you can’t attend the live class. Listen to me and listen to me well — attend the live classes as much as possible! It is always tempting to avoid the live classes and just listen to the recording, but trust me, you’ll find you’ll hardly ever access the recordings. The added benefit of joining the live class is, obviously, the ability to ask questions right there and then.

7. Back everything up. This one’s self explanatory. Create multiple backup of files in your hard disk, a portable hard drive, a USB drive, and your regular backup drive.

8. Prepare for the worst case scenario. In case your internet connection at home fails, can you use your mobile phone as a wifi hotspot? In case of a blackout, is there a 24-hour cafe with internet access that you can go to? In case any of your groupmates have issues with their microphones during a presentation, make sure everyone prepares scripts of their portion and share that with everyone else so that the group leader (or any group member) can take over that part of the presentation.

9. Cover your camera and turn off your mic by default. Accidents do happen and when they do, you wouldn’t want your classmates to see you in your pyjamas or hear your child crying in the background, would you?

10. Check email and your online learning portal at least once a day. Online classes rely on emails and portal announcements and you wouldn’t want to miss a crucial announcement, would you?

graduation11. Ask questions. One of my favourite teachers once remarked, “The only stupid question is the one you do not ask.” For all you know, that question burning in your mind may just be the very same question that everyone else in class is dying to ask. Just make sure to first read the syllabus, course notes, instructions, what-have-you before asking your question.

12. Email your instructor. All online classes that I’ve attended so far always provide an email address for any queries. You can always email your questions if they are too long or if they are very specific questions that will not benefit anyone else in class.

13. Get organised. Keep all your textbooks and notes in one place. Create separate folders for every class so that you can save files specific  to that class to that folder — notes, homework, additional reading, etc.

14. Learn to say no. Even though online learning gives you the flexibility of learning at your own time, you still have the same 24 hours in a day. Just like any other class, online learning will take up a huge chunk of your times, thus, you’d have to learn to turn down  unnecessary social commitments or cut down the time you normally allocate to certain hobbies/activities.

15. Life happens. Finally, keep in mind that there will be times when real life just has to take precedence over your online class. Sure, it may be the final 30 minutes of your last class of your toughest subject, but your child is burning with fever. Attend to your baby and set a reminder to watch the last 30 minutes recording afterwards.

I sincerely hope these tips will help you with your online learning journey. It will definitely not be easy but I assure you that it will all be worth it in the end!

P.S. I did not merely survive my online MBA; I succeeded. I made it to the Dean’s List and had my first journal article published soon after graduation ;)

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Seeing Red Over “Green”

Dear Selangor Government,

I have a bone to pick with you!

Starting the 1st of January, 2017, the whole of Selangor is now #bebasplastik (plastic bag-free).  Sure, it’s “good for the environment” but I say: shame on you, Selangor government, for taking the easy way out! Why do the ban at consumer level only? What are YOU doing on manufacturers’ level? Do you have a program in place that bans manufacturers from using certain types of packaging that can neither be recycled nor reused? At the very least, plastic bags get a second-lease in life (or maybe even more) as a garbage bag, as a shoe bag, for wrapping extra clothes to school, and so on. But is there any legislation for plastics used in electrical and electronic equipment?? In the UK alone, more than 10 million tonnes of packaging waste is produced every year. I dare say Malaysia produces so much more, especially for small electronic items like this!

packaging waste example

Don’t even get me started on plastic water bottles. Why aren’t those banned, as well??


What about coffee pods? Why is there no regulation about coffee machines that use these single-serving pods?


Image from

In Hamburg, Germany, a ban has been in place since January 2016 for “equipment for hot drinks in which portion packaging is used” – specifically singling out the “Kaffeekapselmaschine”, or coffee capsule machine, which accounts for one in eight coffees sold in Germany, due to these products causing “unnecessary resource consumption and waste generation.” Why can’t we do the same thing?

And finally, don’t even get me started on the waste segregation enforcement supposedly set in place since June 2016. What a joke! Our family dutifully bought the colour-coded bags and segregated our household waste like any good law-abiding citizen. But guess what? The garbage collectors simply grabbed ALL of the bags and dumped them all into the same lorry! Fast forward to February 2017, we segregate all recyclables into one bag and even when we specifically tell the garbage collectors what’s inside it, they simply dump it with the rest of the trash.

I may be only one irate Selangor resident but I can assure you there are thousands more who feel the same as I do!

Rant over. Over and out.


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Dealing With Separation Anxiety

January marks the beginning of a new school year for Malaysia. For parents whose children are going to school for the first time, separation anxiety can be cause for major concern.  Not all children happily skip to class after parents drop them off; a good number  of children would cry, cling to their parents, and/or put up a major struggle not to get into the classroom.

Image from

Image from

Sound familiar? Yup! I know the feeling all too well. I went through this phase with all six children and, I’m telling you, it never gets any easier!

It starts off as a feeling of dread that builds up during that short drive to school as you try to keep a semblance of calm as you navigate the early morning snarling traffic, which peaks when your child goes into major meltdown just as soon as you pull up the school entrance. “Tak nak schooooool! Nak Mamaaaaa!!!!” (I don’t want school! I want Mama!)

Your anxiety mounts as you feel torn between the instinctive need to comfort your child and the need to show up at work on time. Just five more minutes, you promise yourself, as you pull your child aside to hug him and shower him with kisses and promises to be back later. His cries reduce to a whimper and his hands release your clothes from what used to be a death grip. And the moment you utter, “Okay, Mama really needs to go to work now,” the whole wailing and screaming thing starts all over again. But at this point, you have no choice but go so you leave your child with his class teacher, leaving you feeling wretched and awful and a complete failure as a mother, guilt eating away at you throughout the day.

One week later, you go through the same pain and anxiety every single day. For some children, it can take two weeks, a month, maybe even longer.

So what’s a working mother to do??

First off, try to find out if there is any specific reason why your child cries. Talk to your child — young children are usually incapable of making up stories. Talk to his teacher — if your child is too young, he may be incapable of expressing what exactly is bother him. Could someone in class be possibly bullying your child? Is there anything in school that could possibly merit your attention?

If you find a valid reason, you might need to consider a different class, a different school, or maybe even re-think sending your child to school at all, perhaps wait for another year before doing so.

If you find that it’s purely separation anxiety, there are a few things you can do to help ease it, both for your child and for yourself:

1. Children can pick up on parents’ feelings. If we show some sign that we, ourselves, feel separation anxiety, I assure you, they can feel all that anxiety coming from you. So, when you drop your child off, make the trip as pleasant as possible (sing songs, talk about funny stuff, etc.) and do your best to appear calm and okay.

2. As you drop your child off, look him in the eye (squat down, if you have to, like Prince William does) and assure him that you will pick him up later or see him later at home, whichever is the case. It is very important to establish eye contact with your child as you make your promise. Then in the evening, when you pick him up or when you see each other at home, make it a point to remind him of your promise that morning and how you fulfilled that promise. Do this every single day.

3. When you drop him off, don’t prolong the agony for both of you. Drop him off. Do as in #2. Quick hug and kiss. Exit.

4. Let your child bring something extra everyday, like some treats to share with classmates, a special packed snack or lunch, maybe even sneak in his favourite toy inside his school bag (just make sure to label it with your child’s name and to inform his teacher, so that it wouldn’t get lost).

5. Find out the names of his classmates and talk about them at home. On the way to school, mention how those friends are excited to see him and how much fun they are going to have.

6. Maintain contact with the teachers. Find out how long it takes him to calm down. Does it affect him the entire day? Or does he stop crying the moment your car disappears from view? What helped me a lot was WhatsApp — my Little Dragon‘s teacher would take his pic between 30 minutes and an hour after I leave and that image of him interacting in class instead of crying allays any fears or anxieties that might be brewing in my head.

7. Give him some time. Some kids take a week to adapt, some a month, some even as long as two months.

All the best!

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