There may be some of you who remember when Kampung Air (water village) had water and houses stood on stilts over the water. How many remember that? Kg Air was where Asia City is located now. When my hub and his primary school friends come over for wine, they sometimes talk of the old days when they were skinny young teens who roamed the Kampung Air area, swimming, fishing and crabbing in the sea. That was a big surprise to me because that's where I used to hang out too but I never noticed those scrawny boys. Or they me I suppose. I was just as scrawny. And when they start reminiscing about the one and only coffee house in KK called Max Coffee House, located at Kg Air just opposite those wooden stilt houses, I'd be so excited nobody can have a word in but me .
Max Coffee House, remember it? That was where we went to celebrate our academic achievements or special birthdays because that's the only place where western food was available. It was such a special treat to even walk into Max because it was hip and western, and it was the only eatery that had air-con. And we had to give our orders in English, an act of courage in those days. The fun was seeing how your friends struggle with their English and how we all try not to act too rural. The most memorable item for me at Max was their chicken and beef pies, which was about the size of a dessert plate. To eat it, you'd use a fork and a knife (how you handle your cutlery was the ultimate proof of how western you were), and slather Lingham's sweet chili sauce on top. Max's pies were just the most delicious thing I'd ever tasted then.
As KK had been under British rule, Max's served Brit-influenced food such as pies, sandwiches, steaks, chicken chops, banana splits and that's all I can remember. I don't quite remember if I first ate Chicken a la King at Max's but this dish just reminds me of those old days before the world globalized and food became international. I found an interesting site that gives some background info on chicken a la King. The dish very likely originated from New York, USA about 100 years ago.
Wey had a week's break from school this week and had a couple of friends stay over one night. The herd behavior among boys this age (or any age actually) is such that they need to eat every four hours or so, during their toilet breaks while playing computer games. I cooked mac and cheese, then pasta and tuna bake, even plain pasta with butter and Bovril (Ming's creation, and it's really yum) and finally, raked up chicken a la King which was a hit with them, so I'm sharing the recipe here. Skip it if it's too elementary for you, but do consider cooking it if you need to whip something up quickly especially for kids. I used raw chicken but you can use cooked chicken too.
Chicken a la King (serves 3-4)
500g uncooked skinless, boneless chicken, cut into 2 cm cubes
1 green bell pepper or peas
1 can button mushrooms
1 medium brown onion
3 T plain flour
2 T butter
2 T oil
2 cups chicken stock (Swanson's)
1 can Nestle reduced cream or use thickened cream
1 T sherry
salt n pepper to taste
1. Cut the veggies into 2 cm cubes/pieces.
2. Heat up a pot, add 1 T oil and fry the onions for a minute. Add the chicken and the carrots, season with salt and pepper, add 1 cup stock and cover and let it simmer about 10 minutes until the carrots are half-tender. Add the mushrooms and bell pepper, let it boil 2 minutes or so. Switch off fire.
3. To make the white sauce, heat up another pot, add the butter and 1 T oil and melt the butter over low fire. Add the flour and stir quickly. The mixture will bubble and thicken. Make sure fire is not high. After about 30 sec, slowly whisk in the 1 cup stock and cream, stirring with a small whisk all the time. When the cream boils, add the chicken and veg, taste and season if necessary. Add a little bit of water if sauce is too thick. Add the sherry and let mixture heat through, and remove.
4. Serve chicken a la king over plain white rice.