Archive for the ‘Malaysian’ Category

1st November this year fell on a Tuesday. I could have made a bridge for a longer “weekend”, but could not due to my workload at work 😦

I was glad to break off work for that one day that week for a yearly family reunion, hosted by one of my SIL’s. While driving to my SIL’s, we stopped at a friend’s house. I received a text message from F that she was giving away some of her ‘harvests’ in her garden. 

Guess what? I hand-picked the chillies in her garden. They were so, very, very fresh! She wanted only the red ones, so I helped myself to the green chillies. I didn’t mind the ‘raw version’ at all, because I knew if I left the chillies wrapped in absorbent paper in the lower drawer of the fridge, the chillies would ripen. 

And I was right!

10 days later, some of the birds’ eye chillies had turned to a lovely bright orange-crimson colour. And I knew exactly where some of the chillies would end up into 😉

Thai Chef vs Me

There was one Wednesday that I took a day off and brought my 2 sons out for lunch (Note, both boys had half-day school / Univ on a Wednesday). We went to a Thai resto near our place. 

For starter, I ordered Tom Yum Goong (TYG) for us. It was a good TYG, but I missed that Oomph in their soup. It was a wee bit too lame. 

Saturday came, and TYG was in the pipeline for our lunch menu.

So here it was, my version vs the Thai Chef’s. 


And not only that, I made my TYG in my thermomix! 


To be honest, I could eat my TYG all day without anything else that day, because it had been a while since I last made the soup! I looked back at a post I wrote; it was in March this year when I had friends over. You can read it all … Here 🙂

Because I love bold-tasting soups, I thought of a way to totally infuse the aromatics in the soup first before proceeding further. Be warned! It’s a highly seasoned soup that hits the palate and warms the heart without burning, if you know what I meant 😉

(Note: This is my own recipe using my preferred method – tried and tested – after a few trials and errors).  

Please be aware that some measurements are not given as only you will know how much or how little you want to put in the dish. Remember, “Ut quod ali cibus est aliis fuat acre venenum” or what is food for one man may be bitter poison to others. 

Ingredients A

  • 2 cm piece galangal
  • 1 shallot
  • 1 lemongrass
  • 2 coriander roots

Ingredient B

  • 5 g cooking oil / coconut oil

Ingredient C

  • 1,500 g water

Ingredients D

  • Lemongrass, bruised and halved
  • Shallots, halved 
  • Galangal, sliced
  • Bird’s eye chillies, lightly bruised
  • Kaffir lime leaves, lightly bruised with the fingers

Ingredients E

  • Fish sauce, to taste
  • Homemade chilli paste, eyeball for colour, taste and flavour
  • Salt, to taste 

Ingredients F

  • Prawns, shelled 
  • Mushrooms, sliced 

Ingredient G

  • Lime juice, to taste
  • Cherry tomatoes, halved or whole

Ingredient H

  • Fresh coriander 

Steps –

  • Place A in the TM bowl. Grind 5 sec/ sp 10  * 2

  • Add B. Sauté for 3 mins/100C/ sp 2 
  • Place D in SB and add C. Cook for 15 mins/ 120C/ sp1


  • Remove the SB and tip the aromatics in a bowl. Set aside for garnish later.

  • Transfer F in the SB. Cook for 4 mins/120C/ sp 1 or until the prawns are cooked. 

  • Remove the SB and set aside the cooked prawns, mushrooms, etc
  • Add E. Cook further for 5 mins/ 120C/ sp 2


  • Add G. Stir for 1 min/ R/ spoon
  • Assemble a serving bowl with prawns, mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, some slices of galangal, bird’s eye chillies, lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves. Garnish with H.
  • Done!


Happy 1st Anniversary!

I made the TYG to go with my Nasi Ulam and baked spiced chicken. Our Saturday lunch was the bomb, by the way, with full-blown explosion of flavours. Yup, my kind of food 🙂


There’s no better way to celebrate my first year anniversary of owning the thermomix than sharing with you some of the dishes I have conjured the past 12 months using my most used kitchen gadget today!

And as they say, ‘A picture is worth a thousand words‘ …


IMPORTANT NOTICE : Please be aware that I’m neither a Consultant/ Advisor nor an employee of Thermomix.  I am NOT paid anything from any parties. I just happened to own a thermomix and love doing what I’m doing and will continue doing so. 

Happy Mid-Week ya’ll!

Cheers!

Phew! It’s a looonng process, but I’m so glad I DID it … finally, with some help from my thermie 🙂

Eating white rice can be rather boring, so to make the staple more enticing, a bit of picasso and van gogh will bring the little white beads to life. 

Making Nasi Ulam is not rocket science, far from it, but there are several steps or parts to consider before the final piece of puzzle fell into place. 

With the lengthy list of fresh herbs and spices that go into making Nasi Ulam, it will not make you feel guilty even if you overindulged. 

I could eat the fresh and fragrant herbed rice on its own, but a baked chicken on the side certainly made my Sunday lunch more complete and a million percent more alluring and tantalizing.

Like so …


Choosing The Right Rice

I have done this herbed rice before using Jasmine rice. I found it was not quite the right type of rice to use. Why? The grains of Jasmine rice clinged and are somewhat stickier than for example the American long-grain rice or Basmati rice.

So I chose Basmati rice, which is easily available in our local stores. It was also easier to handle and toss the rice with the many fresh herbs and spices that went into the rice.

How to cook the rice in the Thermomix?

Weigh 300 g of basmati rice in the Simmering Basket. Remove it from the TM bowl and wash the rice to remove excess starch.

Place the SB with the rice back in the TM bowl. Add 1kg water. Cook/ steam the rice for 18 mins/ 100C/ sp 4/ MC


Leave the rice in the TM bowl for 10 minutes before taking it out to cool at room temperature.

Choosing Your Fresh Herbs 

I have been looking high and low for torch ginger (bunga kantan) but it’s nowhere to be found in our local Asian stores where I live. It’s a shame because bunga kantan is one of the main star herbs in Nasi Ulam. Well, it’s not the end of the world. There are many other fragrant herbs I could find to complement the making of my version of homemade Nasi Ulam

By the way, I used 7 different fresh herbs, of which 4 herbs were bought at the Asian store whilst the remaining 3 herbs can be found easily at the hyper market.


Spiced and Flavoured Ingredients


  • 1/2 cup dried shrimps (hay bee), soaked
  • 1 cup dessicated coconut
  • Salted fish 
  • Shallots
  • Galangal
  • Lemongrass
  • Turmeric 
  • Freshly-milled white Sarawak pepper
  • Coarse sea salt, to taste

Herbed Ingredients 


  • Eryngium foetidum (Culantro)
  • Thai sweet basil leaves
  • Mint
  • Coriander (incl roots)
  • Flat leaf parsley
  • Kaffir lime leaves
  • Dill

Making Kerisik

Toast the dessicated coconut until golden brown. Transfer to TM bowl and grind for 10 sec/ sp 10. Scrape the sides of the inner bowl. Check the consistency. Grind for another 10 sec/ sp 10. Tip the Kerisik into a clean bowl and set aside.


Toasting the hay bee

Drain the water from the dried shrimps. Transfer the hay bee to the TM bowl. Blend for 5 sec/ sp 5.5.  Tip the roughly blended dried shrimps to a hot pan. Toast the dried shrimps until lightly brown and crusty. Transfer the toasted shrimps to a clean bowl. Set aside.


Dry-frying the salted fish 

I have bought an already fried salted fish from a local Asian store. All I did was to scrape the meat from the bones and head of the fish. I then dry-fry the fish and shred the meat. Set aside.


Chiffonaded Herbs

This was by far THE most time consuming part of ‘the making of’. 

Every single herb was chiffonaded evenly ( or almost 😉 ). I did not use my thermie for that because the herbs should end up in thin long strips and not chopped crazy or bruised too much. Patience is key here 😉


Assembling the Dish: Le Moment Suprême 

After all the chopping, slicing, toasting, shredding, blending, grinding etc, came the plain sailing and uncomplicated part: the assembling 🙂

From white boring rice, I transformed it to a golden colour with fresh turmeric. In went the spices one after another, completely coating the basmati rice. Then came the natural umami flavours in the form of dried shrimps, salted fish and kerisik. The greens were folded in last while going through the taste test before plating up.


By right the rice should be cooled down before the spicing and herbing, but there’s always a someone in the family who would freak out eating cold staples, so I microwaved his plate before serving 😬

Be warned! It’s a dry rice salad dish as there’s not a single drop of gravy or sauce in the fragrant herbed rice. With a stroke of genius, I made a palatable Tom Yum Goong to go with the rice. So no one’s choked at the dining table. Lol!


This is a great dish to bring at potluck. It’s hard work but with some help from my thermie, everything else was straightforward and plain sailing 😉


Have a blessed and smooth sailing week!
Cheers!

Of Red and Tortoises

My Mum and siblings know it!

Every trip to Kuching, Mum or one of my sisters would buy at least half a dozen of the red, soft, sticky and chewy Chinese pastry filled with mung bean paste for our brekkie. This is one of my must-haves whenever I am in Kuching. The cake (transcribed from the local dialect, ‘kueh‘ ) is moulded to resemble a tortoise shell. 

Remember Grand Master Oogway, one of the characters from DreamWorks animated film, Kung Fu Panda? His character is a tortoise and his name, “Oogway” is the English approximation of the Chinese word for ‘turtle’. In the film, Oogway is shown to be highly venerated for his wisdom, tenacity, knowledge and experience. He is considered a sage (a legendary icon with profound wisdom). 

Here’s one of my favourite quotes *wink*

  

And by the way, tortoises have one of the longest lifespans of any animal. They are known to have lived longer than 150 years, therefore, by equating Red + Tortoise, we arrived at the most powerful equation. In Chinese culture, the colour red symbolizes joy and happiness, whilst the tortoise is traditionally used as a symbol of longevity, power and diligence

Not Red but all-natural Orange Tortoise

Traditionally, Ang Ku Kuehs are prepared during Chinese New Year as offerings to the Chinese deities, as well as auspicious occasions such as a newborn baby’s first month (muah guek) or birthdays of the elderly to symbolize blessings for the child and good fortune and longevity for the elderly.

In modern times, the colour red is no longer restricted to special occasions. These sweet pastries are commercially available all year round in Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, China, Taiwan and Southern parts of Thailand. The two main components in Ang Ku Kueh (AKK) are the skin and the filling. The skin is made from both glutinous rice flour and sweet potato whereas the fillings are usually pre-cooked mung bean paste or grounded peanuts and sugar. The oval-shaped AKK is the result of the imprintment of the tortoise-shape mould used in shaping the sweet pastries.

Here were some photos I took during my last trip to Kuching in August last year. These were taken during the Annual Kuching Food Festival.
   
 

With the mass production of the AKK all year round, I am very certain food dyes are liberally used. I am not a fan of using food colouring in my kitchen, hence, my homemade Ang Ku Kueh will definitely not be Red.

Here’s the result of my all-natural Orange Tortoise Cakes. (Note the colour orange was the result of my using orange sweet potatoes)

  

This recipe is an adaptation of Nasi Lemak Lover’s AKK recipe with several modifications, as to the ratio of glutinous rice flour to sweet potato, reduced sugar and I added a pinch of salt and excluding food colouring. I did not use hot water as I was preparing the AKK in my Thermomix

Ingredient A

  • 180 g mung beans (rinsed with several changes of running water and soaked for 4 hours)

Ingredient B

  • 3 knotted pandan leaves

Ingredients C

  • 100 g sugar
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 30 g corn oil

  

Ingredient D

  • 1,000 g water

Ingredient E

  • 220 g sweet potatoes, washed, peeled and cut in chunks 

Ingredients F

  • 170 g glutinous rice flour
  • 5 g rice flour
  • 15 g sugar
  • 20 g corn oil

Ingredient G

  • 80 g water

  

Ingredient H

  • 700 g water

Additional ingredients

  • Some corn oil
  • Some glutinous rice flour

How to prepare 

   

  1. Place A and B in the Simmering Basket (SB). Place E in the Varoma Dish (VD). Add D. Steam for 45 min/ V/ sp 2
  2. Remove SB and VD. Add the slightly cooled A without B into the TM Bowl. Add C. Blend for 45 sec/ sp 7.  Scrape the sides of the inner bowl and remove the dough into a clean bowl. Cover and set aside.
  3. Place the slightly cooled E into the TM Bowl. Blend for 5 sec/ sp 6. Add F and very slowly pour in G.   Mix for 30 sec/ sp 4. (Note, it is crucial at this stage to check the consistency of the dough. If it is too thick, add water; if too thin, add glutinous rice flour). Knead the dough further for 2 mins. Tip the dough out onto a clean bowl
  4. For the amount of ingredients I used in this recipe, I could make 18 AKK. Use your fantasy on how to put the mung bean filling in the sweet potato dough. I used a measuring spoon of a bit more than 1 Tbsp sweet potato dough and 1 Tbsp of mung bean paste. Try to form a ball and place the ball onto an AKK mould, which was pre-dusted with some glutinous rice flour. Press lightly with your hand and knock out the AKK on both of the long sides of the mould. Immediately sit the AKK on a greased banana leaf
  5. Repeat the process until the doughs are completely used up.  Pour H in the TM Bowl and set the dials to 30 mins/ V/ sp 2.  Once the temp reaches Varoma at approx 22 mins, reduce the temp to 100 deg C. Place the AKK on the Varoma set (Dish and Tray) and stack the Varoma set above the TM Bowl. Continue steaming until done.

   
  
 

Verdict: This was the first time I made Ang Ku Kueh which were not red but all-natural orange tortoise cakes! I have read several recipes, both conventional and thermomix way of preps on the net. Most of them sounded too good to be true. ” … cool the dough and shape in x balls …” or “… weigh each dough and shape in balls … ” or “… divide the dough into x balls …” . Balls? What balls? Honestly, I wished I could do that! Sonia (Nasi Lemak Lover) made her AKK for the first time and yet she could roll the skin dough into balls (yes, balls!) as well as the mung bean paste. Now, why couldn’t I do that? The sweet potato-glutinous rice flour dough was not easy to handle at all. I added a bit more GRF but dared not go overboard, lest the dough would be too hard and overly tough and chewy. I wanted a soft yet subtly chewy dough, so I ended up scooping the dough with a measuring spoon of 1 Tbsp and tried making a ball on a greased clean plate. Did it work? On the plate, yes, but not on my palm, so no balls. LOL!. Same thing for the mung bean paste. I had to add a bit more oil to make a ball. It was tedious task handlng the “balls” 36 times (skin and filling). I was so craving for AKK and when I finally made it, I was in 7th Heaven, but …..I would NOT suggest eating the AKK hot or warm, ie just coming out from the steamer (Varoma set). It was too soft and the skin was not at all chewy. It was like biting through a gelatinous pastry. Uh-uh! At that point, I was really disappointed and thought the recipe was a big, flat flop! And then I read on fatboo’s blog that the AKK can be kept without refrigeration for up to 3 days; and if they are refrigerated, to re-steam for 5 mins prior to serving. Did I follow the rule? Yes and No. I kept my orange tortoise cakes un-refrigerated for up to 24 hours only, not 3 days. Thanks to fatboo, the AKK tasted sublime the next day, like it should be – soft and chewy with the right balance at the same time. The glossy skin was absolutely fab! I did not even brush extra oil on my little orange tortoise cakes. Likewise, I was really glad I reduced the amount of sugar for the mung bean paste. It was bang on the money, not overly sweet. The subtle pandan flavour and the aroma from the banana leaf were undescribable. Just too nostalgic.

   
 

I had about 10 leftover pieces left. Since I am not used to leaving foods un-refrigerated for longer than 24 hours, I placed my precious orange tortoise cakes in the fridge. I did not re-steam the cakes because if I did, it would be a vicious circle. So I ate a piece of AKK in its cold refrigerated state. That was a BIG mistake! The skin was not chewy anymore. The sweet potato texture became more dominant. The filling was fantastic, though. In hindsight, I should have left the AKK un-refrigerated for 3 days. I guess that’s hinting me to make another batch of these Tortoise cakes, regardless the colour very soon *wink*

Ang Ku Kueh is Hokkien Chinese and is literally translated as Red Tortoise Cake. This sweet Chinese pastry is ubiquitous in Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, Indonesia and Thailand all year round. For this, I’m linking up this local delicacy to April Tea Time Treats: Local & Regional Recipes hosted by Lavender and Lovage and The Hedgecombers

  

Have a great week!

Cheers!

Let me walk the talk.  As promised in my previous post, Freshly-pressed Fragrant Pandan Kaya, I will walk you through how I extracted the juice from freshly-packed frozen pandan leaves on this post. 

Yup, frozen! 

And I’m not complaining! Infact I’m glad I could buy them here in Europe! Maybe I should start growing this herb in my garden😜

  
What is pandan leaf?

In Malaysia and Indonesia, pandan leaf is called ‘daun pandan‘. Screwpine leaf was the name coined by English traders who travelled to Asia.

Most people associate the use of pandan leaves only in South (East) Asian desserts, cakes and puddings, however, this sweet-scented leaf makes most savoury dishes appetisingly fragrant and aromatic. I have used knotted pandan leaves in my curries (Thereupatic Pandan Chicken Curry),  fragrant rice (nasi lemak) and glutinous rice (pulut panggang).  Absolutely bang on the money!

   

  

Green with Envy

If you’re wondering why most South (East) Asian desserts, cakes and puddings are green, it has nothing to do with St Patrick’s Day. The ‘culprit’ is the juice or extract of the pandan leaves! The juice or extract is used to flavour and colour the food. 

This brings me back to a Cookery program on BBC last year, presented by a popular Chef and Cookery Writer, Nigel Slater. He was pleasantly surprised by the delicious green custard dessert prepared by Helen Goh, a Malaysian residing in the UK. He thought custards were meant to be (only) yellow! Helen’s recipe can be found here. The dessert is commonly known in Malaysia as Seri Muka (beautiful face).  And this dessert is on my to-do list!  Honestly, my list is getting longer by the day.

Since owning the Thermomix, extracting the juice of fresh or freshly-packed frozen pandan leaves is a breeze! 

Note: I did not add a drop of water in the ‘first-press’ of the pandan extract. 

Here’s how I extracted the juice from 20 pandan leaves (washed and patted dry).

Then cut the leaves to desired even lengths (really up to you) with a pair of scissors.

Set the TM5 dials to 20 sec/ speed 10. Transfer the cut pandan leaves through the hole of the lid in 4 to 5 batches until all leaves have been blended. Scrape the sides of the inner bowl and the inner lid if necessary. 

Immediately transfer the pulp to a clean muslin cloth.

  

Squeeze the muslin cloth with your bare hands to extract the pandan juice into a measuring jug. 

 

As you can see, the first-pressed pandan extract from 20 leaves only yielded 50 ml of juice. Note, I did not add any water, hence, what you see above was the most concentrated juice extract!   This extract is recommended to be used to flavour and colour cakes, desserts and puddings.

For the record, I did a 2nd and 3rd ‘pressing’ with the addition of water of 50g*2 @ 15 sec/speed 10 (2 batches). Waste not want not😊
  
The less concentrated juice is used for making soupy desserts, like lek tau suan, bubur cha cha, ang tau t’ng, etc.

  
And by the way, the most concentrated pandan extract from 20 pandan leaves was used recently in my homemade fragrant pandan kaya.  Note, 20 leaves yielded 50 ml and I needed 40 g.

And here’s the result👍


 
Happy Days🤓

Cheers!

I was at an Asian store recently with my younger son, and was browsing the shelves in great detail, much to his chagrin.

C’mon, Mama! Don’t take too long. It’s so boring here. Let’s go…

Shhh!! I’m busy here…

 Pfff!

And then…. bingo! I was bewitched by one particular item on the shelf.

This!

  
I was beaming when I saw the familiar looking cookies and my son was delighted I finally found something after striding around for ages on end. Phew! While at the cash counter to pay for my items, the cashier looked up at me and smiled broadly 😃

He said, “You must be a Malaysian, right?”

Huh? How can you tell?” I asked

Because only Malaysians buy the pineapple jam cookies“, he replied with a huge smile on his face 😃

Store-bought vs Homemade

While home, I had a closer look at the plastic case and noticed the Malaysian flag on it. Ah…. that’s why!
 

  

By the way, I did not buy the jam tart because of the flag. I was, infact, as blind as a bat when I reached for the cookies at the time. Now the proof of the pudding is in the eating.

First thing’s first, the tart was crumbly from the first bite. It sort of of melt-in-the-mouth, but there was an unpleasant flavour. It must be the E-number artificial food colouring. No wonder, the pastry was too yellow for my liking. The pineapple paste filling was the stingiest I have ever seen. I could not remember how it tasted like at all, because there was almost nothing filled inside the pastry to draw a taste test. I tasted only the crumbly artificially-buttered-and-coloured pastry, which was quite off-putting, if you ask me.  On the contrary, I must admit that the shape and linear pattern on the cookies were rather impressive. 

  

 
With a lot of effort, we finally finished the store-bought pineapple tarts for more than a week. Then I challenged myself to make my own pineapple tarts from scratch. BUT, I was pampered by a blogger friend, Miss B, when she came to my house last year to pass me a packet of 500g of Redman Pineapple Paste all the way from Singapore (thanks, Miss B). Honestly, that was the best pineapple paste I have tasted ala store-bought. It was not too sweet with natural pineapple flavour and perfect consistency for making pineapple tarts. By the way, I tweaked the paste by spicing it up with some cinnamon and clove powders. Not a lot but just enough to enhance the Nyonya-ness of the paste. LOL!

Here were the results of the store-bought vs homemade pineapple tarts.

I was definitely feeling Goliath-ish that day 🙂

   
  

I have made pineapple tarts before and had always used the same recipe, however, this time, I used another recipe from a friend because I had half a kilogram of pineapple paste! I tweaked her recipe according to personal preference and availability of ingredients

Ingredients

  • 550g plain flour ( I reduced to 450g)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 350g butter (I used 250g cold butter because that’s what I had left in the fridge!)
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 3 Tbsp castor sugar – fine (I reduced to 1.5 Tbsp)
  • 2 tsp vanilla essence (I did not use)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 Tbsp hot water (I did not use)
  • A few drops of yellow food colouring (I definitely did NOT use)
  • 500g Redman Pineapple paste (I added freshly ground cloves and a pinch of cinnamon powder and wore rubber gloves to knead the mixed spices into the paste)

Glazing/ Egg wash

  • Mix 1 egg yolk with 1 Tbsp condensed milk

Method (how I usually prep and assemble my tarts without using any flashy tart moulds)
The night or day before: Make equal size pineapple balls using a measuring spoon of 1/2 Tbsp each. Place onto a clean flat plate/ dish and cover with a cling film once done, and let rest in the fridge overnight or until ready to be used
   

1. Sift flour, baking powder and salt into mixing bowl

2. Knead cold rock solid butter into flour with finger tips until mixture resembles breadcrumbs.

3. Add in egg yolks and continue kneading until a pastry is formed. It does not take long at all

  
4. Rest the pastry in the fridge for at least 30 minutes

5. Use a measuring spoon of 1 Tbsp to scoop the pastry and flatten it with the palm of your hand. Place the ball-shape pineapple paste in the centre of the flattened pastry. Close it up and form shapes to your preference. I shaped mine in a slightly rectangular form to represent the shape of a pineapple.

  

 6. Brush each tart top surface with the prepared glazing mixture

7. Bake in pre-heated oven at 180 deg C for 18 minutes and apply the egg wash for a second time. Continue baking for 5 minutes.

   
 8. Done!

   
    

Verdict: One thing’s for sure, store-bought pineapple tarts cannot beat homemade ones. The freshly baked cookies with the subtle aroma of the spiced up paste smelt amazing coming out from the oven. With the ‘new’ recipe I have used, it’s not as crumbly as the store-bought tarts. The baked pastry was mildly crispy on the outside but crumbly in the inside. BUT, the filling was top notch generous! In hindsight, I should have used the ingredients which I have used in my original recipe, with icing sugar, less egg yolks plus a bit of egg white and I noted that the percentage of butter to flour should be in the region of 60% or more. Only then I can shout out that I have made 99.9% melt-in-the-mouth pineapple tarts! For now, it’s 90% melt-in-the-mouth. But hey, who’s complaining? There are 4 pineapple cookie jar monsters in the house. The tarts gone in a jiffy!

  

  

Bonus

500g of pineapple paste was a LOT! There were 30 orphaned and naked pineapple balls left. Lol!

With no pastry left, the smart alec in me bought a roll of store-bought puff pastry and made 30 round-shape and 30 star-shape dough. I placed each pineapple paste on the round disc shape dough and topped it up with the star cap. They looked stunning, just like mini edible Terracotta Army . Ha ha ha..! I was so excited with my creative self.

  
 

Then I baked them in the oven….. BUT… I was in for a rude shock!!

Ring-a-ring o’ roses

A pocket full of posies

A-tishoo! A-tishoo!

We all fall down…

  
 

The puff pastry really puffed up and toppled every pineapple ball.

The poor fallen warriors. Lol!

And then the determined me quickly put them back together, while they were still hot.

   
  

Now, don’t they look pretty together?

Verdict: With not enough pastry to encase the paste, the taste of the tart was chewier when baked because there was more pineapple paste to chew on. Guess what, I crazily LOVED the taste and texture, and so did my 3 guys. Not the real McCoy, but it was only a quick fix to make use of everything. Waste not, want not 😜

The pineapple tart is one of the many favourites of all cookies served during Festive occasions in Malaysia and Singapore. Its definitely one of my favourites. With Chinese New Year round the corner, I am linking this post to Cook and Celebrate: Chinese New Year 2016 hosted by Yen from GoodyFoodies, Diana from The Domestic Goddess Wannabe and Zoe from Bake for Happy Kids 

  
Have a fantastic weekend!

Cheers!
 
 

 

 

 

 

Either you like it or you LOVE it! I don’t think I’ve met anyone who does not like Chicken Satay, unless you’re a vegetarian or a vegan 😉

 

This meat on skewer snack makes one of the best, tastiest and fast moving pot-luck platters loved by every carnivore from 2 to 92!  Chicken or Beef Satays are popular dishes at Malay ‘kenduri‘ (feast), and open-houses during the festive seasons. This dish knows no boundaries and appears on the table of a Chinese family at Chinese New Year, a Malay/ Muslim at Hari Raya Aidil Fitri or Eid al-Fitr, a Christian at Christmas, an Indian/ Hindu at Deepavali, native Sarawakian at Hari Gawai and native Sabahan at Pesta Kaamatan (Harvest Festival). It’s a dish that unites the people of Malaysia! Satays are sold in every strata of the society from roadside hawker stall to high end hotel restaurants.

 

My husband and both my sons LOVE their skewered meat. It’s sweet, tasty and simply delicious on its own but doubly addictive, smothered with peanut sauce!  It has been a while since I made this dish and I thought of treating the guys to another feast of chicken satay *wink*

  

 

Labour of Love

 

It takes only seconds to nibble the skewered meat down one’s throat, but it takes a LOT of preparation and a LONG time waiting for the end result. I call it “labour of love”. That accounts to the infrequent investment of time in making the dish at home, especially so when I’m the one and only chef in the kitchen 😦

 

The labour begins with the chopping of the fresh herbs and spices and blend them, one for the meat marinade and another batch for the peanut sauce.  The sliced meat needs to be marinated overnight, hence, a waiting time of 12 hours or more.  The peanut sauce takes at least 2-3 hours to cook to the right taste and consistency.  It’s hard work if done alone and I’m glad I had 3 pairs of thumbs UP, otherwise, I’d go on strike. LOL!

  

 

To Bake or to Grill?

 

Authentic satays are sold, grilled over hot charcoals, dabbed with cooking oil and coconut milk using a stalk of lemongrass, bruised at the fatter end of the stalk, like a paint brush. The taste and aroma of the slightly charred meat is to die for.  

 

My first chicken satay made in Belgium were oven-baked, and the most recent ones were home-grilled using an electric Grill-teppanyaki hot plate, which I got as a gift from work. It’s so easy, but you need to make sure that the kitchen extractor is on at full blast and the windows are opened!  It can be a rather smoky affair 🙂


But the result was worth it!

  

 

Main Item (for the satay) –

  • 1 kg chicken meat (I used 5 pieces chicken breasts)

Marinade ingredients-

For blending

  • 9 shallots
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 2 lemongrass
  • 4 candle nuts 
  • Fresh ginger
  • Fresh turmeric

Dry ingredients to be added to blended ingredients-

  • 1/2 Tbsp cumin powder
  • 1/2 Tbsp coriander powder
  • 1/4 Tbsp cinnamon powder
  • Brown sugar and salt, to taste

Marinade chicken overnight.

  1.     

Peanut Sauce

Ingredients

  • 400g roasted peanuts
  • Fresh ginger
  • Fresh turmeric
  • Galangal
  • 4 Lemongrass 
  • 20g dried shrimps in lieu of belacan
  • 4 candle nuts 
  • 12 dried chillies
  • 3 fresh chillies
  • 9 shallots
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds, ground 
  • Tamarind paste
  • Cumin powder
  • Coriander powder
  • Brown sugar, to taste
  • Salt, to taste
  • Water
  • Cooking oil 

   

   

I prefer to have lots of peanuts in my peanut sauce, hence, you will notice that the end result of my peanut sauce is a lot thicker than the ones you get at  the satay stalls or restaurants in Malaysia. Well, nothing beats home-cooked food wherever you may be 😉 

If you have an allergy for peanuts, try cashew nuts or any other nuts of your choice. I’m sure they work as well. 

!! Warning !! Please be warned when using candlenuts.  According to Wikipedia, the seeds contain saponin and phorbol, that are mildly toxic when raw.

The rule of thumb as follows-

  1. If making uncooked sambal, it is absolutely a must to toast / dry roast the candlenuts before blending them with the rest of the herbs and spices
  2. If you are making a paste which includes candlenuts as one of the ingredients, make sure to stir-fry the paste absolutely well before preparing your desired dish.

And by the way, the chicken satay freezes well too. 

I’m linking this post to Little Thumbs Up April event “CHICKEN“, organised by Zoe of Bake for Happy Kids and Doreen of my little favourite DIY, and hosted by Diana from Domestic Goddess Wannabe 

 


This post is also linked to HonestMum @ Tasty Tuesdays live.

 


I’m also linking this tasty chicken satay dish with its absolutely delicious peanut sauce to Lavender and Lovage’s Cooking with Herbs April Linky

 


Cheers!

I’m so glad I finally made this sticky glutinous rice cake! This has been on my to-do list since time immemorial 😀

And what better way to have this auspicious cake posted on Chinese New Year day!

GONG XI FA CAI!

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Being half Chinese, this dessert has criss-crossed my Mum’s house in Kuching zillion times during the Chinese New Years gone by. She either got the cake as a gift from friends and relatives or she had made the cake herself. There was a time, when we received an abundance of the sweet sticky cake, to the point that my Mum would fill her two fridges to the brim, metaphorically speaking 😉

We did not mind a bit that our fridges were stuffed with the sweet sticky cakes. And by the way, the cake has a name, “nian gao“. It is believed to bring good fortune if one consumes nian gao. According to Wikipediia, “nian gao” in Chinese Mandarin, is literally translated as ‘Year High’. Coincidentally, the Chinese word “nián” means ‘sticky’ and is identical in sound to ‘year’. Similarly, “gāo” means ‘cake’, which is identical in sound to ‘high or tall’. Having said that, eating nian gao has a symbolic meaning of raising oneself higher in each coming year, be it a promotion at work or, for a child, growing taller. And OMG… I haven’t had nian gao in years! I reckoned my achievement had stagnated from my last bite of the sticky sweet snack many donkeys’ years ago. Jeez….I hope not. Touch wood 😉

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Legend has it …

Oh by the way, an interesting legend has it that nian gao is made each new year as an offering to the Kitchen God, with the main purpose of keeping his mouth shut. The Kitchen God is said to make a report of each human (Chinese) family to the Jade Emperor if they have been good or bad that year. By offering the nian gao to the Kitchen God will avoid him from badmouthing to the Celestial Court, as his mouth will be stuck with the sticky cake. He will not be able to talk a lot or too fast.

Whether, it’s true or not, many Chinese families keep the legend going to this day.

The many faces of nian gao

Not long ago I had a brief discussion with some friends about the word nian gao. The nian gao I knew was the sticky brown glutinous rice cake, which I have just discussed, however, one of my friends said the nian gao she knew was the white rice cake, which is usually stir fried with soy sauce, meat and vegetables as a savoury dish. Hmmm… interesting…

Brown + sweet vs white + savoury? Golly gosh! Two opposite poles! There must be an attraction at some point?

The only ‘attraction’ is the fact that China is such a vast country. Different provinces have their own language (dialect) and food! Nian gao being one of them. My friend was not wrong when she referred to nian gao as the white rice cake prepared as a savoury dish, because that’s where the dish is commonly served in Shanghai!

This was what I had for lunch today, the Shanghainese version of stir-fried nian gao. Just so you have an idea 😜

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The nian gao that is most popularly served in Malaysia and Singapore is originated from Fujian (Hokkien-speaking) and Guangdong (Cantonese-speaking) provinces. THE nian gao I am referring to in this post is the Cantonese-style, made the Malaysian way in Belgium 😉

Japan and Korea have similar glutinous rice snacks, known as mochi and tteok respectively,

In Malaysia, this sticky snack is called Kuih Bakul (Cake in a Basket) in Malay, due to the fact that the banana leaf is used to tuck the cake in. The Straits Chinese or Peranakan Chinese or Baba-Nyonya of the Hokkien ancestary called this cake, “Tee Kueh” (Sweet Cake). Tee Kueh was exactly the word I grew up knowing. It was not nian gao. Surprisingly, the Chinese Filipino and Burmese also called the cake, “tikoy“. We definitely see China spreading her wings in the food we eat. Almost the same ingredients used in China years ago are preserved and retained by Chinese families today in Malaysia, Singapore, and elsewhere in East and South East Asia. As one of my brothers used to say, ” You can take a Malaysian out of Malaysia, but you cannot take Malaysia out of a Malaysian”. The same is true if you replaced Malaysian/Malaysia with Chinese/China.

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Labour of Love

There are only 3 ingredients used to make nian gao. Glutinous rice flour, sugar and water or coconut milk. Sounds simple, right? But it’s the hours and hours of constant stirring if done the traditional way (similar to making dodol) or hours and hours of steaming, as is done in the contemporary kitchen.

I steamed my nian gao for only half the original time. 5 hours instead of 10! I have 2 reasons for halving the time –

1. I started steaming the cake at 5.30pm. I had to be in bed by 11pm as it was a work day the following day , hence, I set the timer to stop at 10.30 pm.

2. I did not make a huge portion

This is a family recipe where I chose to use coconut milk over water.

Ingredients

400 g glutinous rice flour, sieved
200 g brown sugar ( I used cassonade brown sugar)
200 g organic cane sugar
400 ml coconut milk

Banana leaves to line a round dish ( I used ramekins and frozen banana leaves, cleaned and dabbed dry with absorbent papers).

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Heat the coconut milk and sugar until the sugar is dissolved. Let cool. Sieve the flour and pour in the coconut milk caramel. Mix well with a balloon whisk for at least 10 minutes until a smooth sticky batter consistency. Pour the batter in round ramekins lined with banana leaves.

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If you have all the time in the world, steam the cake for 10 to 12 hours. Unfortunately I did not have a lot of time to spare, hence, I shortened the steaming time to exactly 5 hours. I was not at all disappointed with the outcome. On the contrary. I loved the colour and the smooth finished texture.

Et voilà !

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I made 3 nian gao. One bigger ramekin and 2 small ones.

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You will notice that the colour changes after the refrigeration process.

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The purpose of refrigerating the cake is to harden it, so it will be more manageable when cutting with a knife. But of course you can eat it as is, warm and sticky, but I want to transform the cake into one of my childhood favourite snacks.

This!
*smiling sheepishly*

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I’m submitting this post to “My Treasured Recipes #5 – Chinese New Year Goodies (Jan/Feb 2015)” hosted by Miss B of Everybody Eats Well in Flanders and co-hosted by Charmaine of Mimi Bakery House

I’m also sharing this post to Cook and Celebrate: Chinese New Year 2015 organised by Yen from Eat Your Heart Out, Diana from Domestic Goddess Wannabe and Zoe from Bake for Happy Kids.

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If you want happiness for an hour, take a nap. If you want happiness for a day, go fishing. If you want happiness for a year, inherit a fortune. If you want happiness for a lifetime, help somebody and share your happiness. ~Chinese Proverb~

Happy Lunar New Year to all celebrants!

Cheers!