Before pursuing his education, Nigel was a cook for two years in several restaurants specializing in Malaysian and international cuisine.
A Little Recap
As you may know, 2020 was a weird but interesting year, as we humans faced yet another tough challenge. A pandemic raged around the world which forced people of the world to go into a period of quarantine. This quarantine may have allowed the world (especially mother nature) to take a break, but staying at home and doing nothing isn't going to help with our personal mental health, to keep ourselves mentally healthy, most of us either learnt how to cook or picked up our spatula and cooked again, something that hasn't been done in a while due to our busy lives.
I remember in Malaysia, the Movement Control Order (MCO) was enforced in the first week of March, where everyone were told to stay at home and only leave the house to purchase necessities. As the youngest in the family, i was tasked to purchase groceries for my family, which automatically gives me the duty to cook, something i haven't done since i left my kitchen job in 2018.
The First Dish i Cooked during quarantine
Before quarantine, i was craving for Traditional Carbonara Pasta and was thinking of making it until quarantine happened. That, in my opinion, was the best chance (and reason) to make this Traditional Carbonara Pasta for my parents and brother, as they never tried how the Italians made Carbonara. You may have seen one of my articles about this recipe a few weeks back, but this dish was made during the first week of quarantine.
A Journey Into Baking
While i had ample amount of time on my hands, with online University classes not taking much of my time, i decided to learn how to bake. So i decided to bake burger buns because my family wanted burgers on the weekend. This was my first attempt on burger buns, it's not the nicest one, but it somehow worked. Lastly, i would like to thank Google for the burger bun recipes and tutorials on how to bake, it was a fun learning experience.
2 Recipes in 1 Week
My burger recipe
As said above regarding the burger buns, on the same week itself, i decided to re-visit an old recipe i had when i was working in the kitchen. This was my take on a beef burger. Homemade buns, Guacamole, homemade Beef patties, a fried egg and lettuce makes this a pretty decent meal.
Thank's IKEA for the meatball recipe
It was during quarantine too where IKEA United Kingdom released the age old secret recipe of their famous meatballs to the world. Upon receiving the news, i instantly decide that the dinner menu for the night will be, IKEA meatballs. I was quite inexperienced with meatballs, but thanks to the recipe, and some improvised moves, the meatball came out pretty good and the sauce too.
Uncle Roger's rise to prominence and my take on the egg fried rice
Malaysian style Egg fried rice
Something simple for lunch, had some left-overs from the night before, so i decided that i'll do fried rice for everyone. But in all honesty, the idea of the fried rice, came from me watching Uncle Roger's video too much. With the might and will to use the left-overs, i decided that egg fried rice will be on the menu for lunch. It was something new for me as well as i rarely cooked fried rice previously.
Poaching an egg
Korean fried noodles with poached egg
Well, one of my weaknesses while working in the kitchen was poaching an egg. It's quite a schoolboy error i must say. Poaching an egg is one of the basics that every upcoming chef should learn, however, i did not perfect a poached egg in the kitchen i worked in, i actually practiced many times at home and voila! after a few tries, this was the final product. It was fun to re-visit the methods of poaching an egg.
A new take on deserts
Chocolate Lava Cake
While many have seen a certain coffee drink appear during this period, i personally wanted to make chocolate lava cake. This desert has been appearing around my Instagram feed rather than the Dalgona coffee. So this was another first for me as prior to quarantine, i didn't have much of a sweet tooth and was not interested in deserts. However, things changed and voila! the chocolate lava cake was made!
Another desert, but this is special!
Batik cake is a no bake cake popular in Malaysia and it's made out of biscuits (cookies), chocolate, vanilla extract, eggs, butter and my take on the recipe, i added some creme and oreo on top, the cake is then chilled until all set together. Prior to making this, as i said above, i was not much of a sweet tooth person, but during the lock down period, i somehow developed some love for deserts. This recipe was a traditional recipe i learnt during my time working in the kitchen, it's a secret family recipe, so i can't reveal it here.
Here's a video by Joshua Weissman about the 19 tools that make cooking easier at home.
To cap it all off
The year 2020 has been a challenging year, despite the challenges, i believe we managed to go through it and still doing the same, plus i think we should look into learning different skills or re-practice that skill like what i did during the lock-down. Well, it was a fun experience putting the apron back on and holding a spatula again. At the same time, learning how to bake and make deserts. Now, the year is ending, but it's not too late to cook at home or learn how to cook. Happy New Year 2021 to everyone reading this! if it's not New Year at your side yet, this is an advanced wish from me!
© 2020 Nigel Koay
Nigel Koay (author) from Malaysia on January 01, 2021:
Thank you Peggy! It's been a pleasure to try something new!
Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on December 31, 2020:
It is never too late to learn how to cook at home. It seems you have done a stellar job of it! Happy New Year!