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, “Utquod ali cibus est aliis fuat acre venenum” or what is food for one man may be bitter poison to others.
2 cm piece galangal
2 coriander roots
5 g cooking oil / coconut oil
1,500 g water
Lemongrass, bruised and halved
Bird’s eye chillies, lightly bruised
Kaffir lime leaves, lightly bruised with the fingers
Fish sauce, to taste
Homemade chilli paste, eyeball for colour, taste and flavour
Salt, to taste
Lime juice, to taste
Cherry tomatoes, halved or whole
Place A in the TM bowl. Grind 5sec/ 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.
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.
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
Freshly-milled white Sarawak pepper
Coarse sea salt, to taste
Eryngium foetidum (Culantro)
Thai sweet basil leaves
Coriander (incl roots)
Flat leaf parsley
Kaffir lime leaves
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.
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 😉
Last Summer my family made a trip to Kuching; a very much delayed trip of 7 years’ overdue. While I was in 7th heaven binging foods I grew up eating, my Belgian hubs and Belsian boys were craving for their Belgian fries. Erm… I guess I could totally understand their cravings, because that’s what happened to me this Summer!
We were in the South of France for 2 weeks, consuming local Provençal’s 3-course meals almost daily. And guess what? My palate was screaming for SPICES!!!
When we headed home, I was longing for that one dish that’s packed with spices and fresh herbs. Because I had been “pampered” with served meals while in the Provence, it was hard getting back to cooking mode. By the way, I have not been using my thermomix for almost a month! Tsk! Tsk! Tsk!
Therefore, one weekend, I moved my thermie and placed it under the extractor hood. My mission? To appease my craving. Yup, I was craving for the Indonesian inspired dish, “soto ayam” because that’s one tantalising dish that’s packed with all the goodness of spices and fresh herbs. No ready-made or instant boemboes! Everything was fresh and cooked from scratch… in my thermie!
If you are wondering what “Soto” means, I was as blur as most of you, so I asked the right people, my Indonesian colleagues. They said it’s a soup dish. Yes, I knew it’s a soup dish, but what is soto? I did not get an answer right away but they went on to explain that usually chicken meat is submerged in water with specific spices and herbs to obtain the broth.
Okay, in my humble opinion, soto is not just a simple soup dish, it’s the methodhowthe broth is made. My Indonesian colleagues agreed to my curious conclusion.
And by the way, I used fresh turmeric to give the broth that vibrant yellow look, while poaching and simmering the chicken in the broth. It’s such a healthy dish, with lots of flavour and very, very aromatic.
Two years ago, I posted the soto ayam recipe done the conventional way, so in this post, I’m going the opposite direction.
Since our Summer hols in August, my thermomix had been left idle for about a month! When I started cooking the soto ayam, my thermie went bonkers. The sound of the blades spinning was not normal. It sounded rusty. I was hoping the squeaky sound would go away. It did not, until I started to boil the chicken. Guess what?!!! My thermie stopped cooking completely in the first 4 to 5 minutes. And I still had so many more minutes to go before the raw chicken meat was cooked!! Oh no!!!! Not now. So I did what I had to do, i.e. removed the plug and then re-plugged. At the same time, I had to re-start the menu. I felt like a surgeon reviving a comatose. Thank goodness, the ‘flatline’ re-acted and my thermie came back to life! It was a HUGE relief! Phew!!!
And here’s how I cooked my Soto Ayam, which I have personally translated as Fragrant Herbed Chicken Soup, because that’s what it actually is!
5g Sarawak white peppercorns
5g coriander seeds
10g (1 stalk) lemongrass
20g candle nuts
4 kaffir lime leaves
60g coconut oil
8 pcs (ca 1 kg) chicken drumsticks
4 stalks lemon grass (bruised)
A palmful kaffir lime leaves (bruised)
Coarse sea salt to taste
8 – 9 medium-sized eggs placed in Varoma dish
500g hot water
Fried shallots (not in photo)
Place A in TM bowl. Dry roast for 10 mins/ V/ sp 1. Mill the toasted spices when temp drops below 60C. Mill for 1 min/ sp 6->10/ MC
Tip the ground spices onto a clean plate/ bowl. Set aside
Meanwhile add B and blend for 15 sec/sp 10. Scrape the sides of the inner bowl and under the lid. Again, blend for 15 sec/ sp 10.
Add C and ground spices A and sauté for 15 mins/ V/ sp 1
Add D. Cook for 15 mins/V/R/ spoon
Place E on top of TM bowl and cook / boil further for 17 mins/ V/ R/ spoon (or until the eggs are boiled according to your liking or better still, use the TM5 recipe chip and boil the eggs separately. I like mine with firm white and runny yolk. Heaven! )
Remove Varoma dish and cool eggs under cold running water. Set aside.
Remove cooked chicken. Set aside
Meanwhile add F and check the seasoning of the broth. Boil further for 5 mins/ 100 C/ R/ spoon
Before drizzling the hot spiced broth, plate the sliced cooked chicken in a (deep) bowl and garnish with thinly stripped cucumber, coriander leaves, spring onions and mint leaves. Place a hard or medium or soft boiled egg on top and sprinkle with fried shallots/ onions.
Pour the hot broth slowly over the chicken.
Serve with steamed white basmati rice (which I also cooked in my thermie)
A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words!
When my thermie stopped cooking in the first 5 minutes, I felt my whole world came crashing down around me! It was that bad. I was thinking that I had prepared everything for nothing. That’s just not me. I wanted to see, or better still, taste the end result. It appears that the thermie must not be left idle for a long time. It needs attention and wearing, therefore, TM owners, keep your thermie busy!
Now, the verdict for the dish. Usually I would serve the soto ayam with vermicelli or noodles. This was the first time I had the fragrant herbed chicken broth with steamed rice. It was a complete meal which we all liked, but personally, I would serve the broth with rice noodles. As you can see, the egg was supposed to be hard-boiled, but it turned out soft, which we all liked, too 😀
With the summer temperatures behind us, this dish will be made quite frequently now. This dish is pure comfort food for cold weather.
So I made this dish again with rice vermicelli, and making sure to boil the eggs separately as per the recipe chip.
The Dragon Boat Festival, also known as Duanwu Festival is a statutory holiday in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Tibet. It commemorates the life and death of the famous scholar and China’s first poet, Qu Yuan (Chiu Yuan). The festival falls on the fifth day of the fifth month (Double Fifth) on the Chinese lunar calendar. The Chinese calendar is lunisolar, hence, the date varies from year to year on the Gregorian calendar. This year, the festival falls on 9th June, 2016. Although it is not a public holiday in most parts of the world, most Chinese around the world celebrate the festival by preparing the most iconic food of the festival, the sticky rice dumpling. There’s no wonder the Dragon Boat Festival is also known as Dumpling Festival (Note: there’s a sad legend behind this Festival at the end of this post)
Journey of Love
Making the sticky rice dumpling, or most popularly known as Bak Chang (meat dumpling) in the lingo I am familiar with, has always been at the back of my mind since time immemorial.
And since time immemorial, I have been drooling looking at photos of one of the dreamiest dumplings on my planet of food list.
I have been telling myself for years, “I must make these dumplings“… BUT… Zilch! To be honest, it’s not difficult to make Bak Chang, but the laborious cum tedious process was the stumbling block. IF only I had kitchen helpers …
When my Mum and big sis came to visit me two summers ago, I was thrilled. I told them that we could dedicate an entire day making my sought-after glutinous rice dumplings. No probs, promised Mum and sis 🙂
Labour of Love
There are many different varieties of Bak Chang ~ Teochew, Hokkien, Hakka, Taiwanese, Cantonese, Nyonya… gosh, I’m out of breath now … and the list goes on, still. Therefore, in my opinion, there is no one rigid way to making these dumplings. The filling for the dumpling varies, which can be customised to one’s preference. For instance, some people may like a bit of sweet in their savoury Bak Chang, using fatty pork belly instead of lean meator some colour in their glutinous rice (from white to blue tip to black … Hmmm…sounds like the belt grading systems of Taekwondo or perhaps Tang Soo Do or Jiu Jitsu? Lol!). Well, I am not fastidious about all that. I don’t care! Just give me the Bak Chang, please.
By the way, I was glad to observe Mum and big sis conjuring the magnificent Bak Chang live in my kitchen two summers ago *wink*
I showed them the ingredients for ourBak Chang. Both ladies nodded their heads, but Mum winced when she looked at the dried bamboo leaves. She was not use to using the flimsy-feel of the bamboo leaves. Mum used to wrap her Bak Chang with the sturdier and fragrant giant pandan leaves, which were in abundance in Sarawak and Kalimantan. Big sis had no issues with using the bamboo leaves because she had made Bak Chang in KL and Batu Pahat. Phew!
I captured the 2 sifus with the camera on my iPhone. While Mum chopped cloves after cloves of garlic and shallots, big sis did all the stir fries. Every single ingredient was treated individually and separately.
The dried bamboo leaves were soaked with several changes of water overnight. On the day of use, new water replaced the overnight water. Again, several changes of water took place until the water ran clear. Each leaf was dabbed dry with a towel. The cleaned bamboo leaves were then set aside until they were ready to be used.
The glutinous rice was washed and soaked for at least 2 hours. The shallots were fried first until crispy and were removed with a slotted spoon leaving the aromatic oil in the wok. Then my sis stir fried plenty of chopped garlic in the same oil until fragrant and she added the pre-soaked glutinous rice. The rice was seasoned with salt, chicken granules, freshly-milled white (Sarawak) peppercorns, light soy sauce, mushroom oyster sauce, freshly-ground dry-roasted coriander seeds and 5-spice powder, all to taste. She then quickly mixed and stir-fried the glutinous rice and added half of the crispy shallots. Note, the rice must not be completely cooked.
In another pan, my sis added some cooking oil and fried some chopped garlic until fragrant. She then added the minced pork and diced pre-soaked shiitake and seasoned with light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, mushroom oyster sauce, a little drizzle of sesame oil, freshly-ground coriander seeds, 5-spice powder, freshly-milled white pepper, salt and a dash of sugar, to taste. Finally, she added the remaining crispy fried shallots.
The dried shrimps were pre-soaked before they were quickly stir-fried. The peanuts were boiled. Then there were store-bought vacuum-packed cooked chestnuts and, yes… chickpeas, too! That’s the beauty of homemade rustic Bak Chang 😀
A Picture is worth a Thousand Words …
The journey of love continued with the boiling of the wrapped Bak Chang in a big pot of boiling water. A bit of salt was added to the water and a batch of Bak Chang was submerged in the boiled water. The End of a Gruelling Journey: The Moment of Truth … Tada!
Honestly speaking, it was beyond BombDiggity yummy inside AND out!
I wish to relive that journey of love on my own some day… Perhaps in my thermomix *wink*
Too bad, though, two years on, I’m still drooling at the photos of my Mum’s and sister’s glutinous rice meat dumplings! *blush*
Oh by the way, the Bak Chang froze brilliantly. You need to steam them for at least half an hour or more until they are warmed through.
It made excellent wholesome breakfast or a quick lunch, high-tea or dinner.
Mum and sis, thank you so much for taking my offer. You have succeeded in banishing my longstanding torments of craving for this thingie, here, in my very own kitchen! I’m sure you would have made the Bak Chang differently in your own kitchen, but with my simple and challenging bag of ingredients, we have managed to incorporate a bit of China in the tetrahedral-shaped glutinous rice savoury meat dumpling ~ Hakka (minced meat and boiled peanuts), Teochew (crispy fried shallots and 5-spice powder), Nyonya (ground coriander seeds), Hokkien (dark soy sauce and chestnuts). What more could I ask for 🙂
Making Bak Chang is by no means an easy chore. It entails a string of well-thought and structured process.
I salute to all of you out there in making this annual repertoire of one of the most arduous and relentless products seemingly easy looking.
A Sad Legend Has It …
(Adapted and modified from Beijing International “A Sad Story Of Qu Yuan” and the Wikipedia)
Have you ever wondered the connection between eating the glutinous rice dumpling with the Dragon Boat Festival? Well, I was one of the people who actually wondered about it, so I delved a bit further and read about the legend of the Chinese poet, Qu Yuan (or Chiu Yuan).
Qu Yuan was the number one advisor of the kingdom of Chu, however people were jealous of his position which also affected the King’s trust in him. The King unheeded his advice which resulted in the King’s death. The new King continued to enjoy the luxury life full of scandals and corruption. He thought Qu Yuan was a nuisance and a hindrance in his kingdom, so he was exiled. During that period, Qu Yuan wrote many patriotic poems.
One day, Qu Yuan met a fisherman, who never cared about the country and was quite satisfied with his life. The poet thought that the people only cared about themselves and not the future of the country. For the poet, it was meaningless to live, so he killed himself by drowning in the Miluo river. The fishermen tried to rescue him but the body was never found.
In order to keep fish and evil spirits away from his body, they beat drums and splashed the water with their paddles. They also threw rice into the water both as a food offering to Qu Yuan‘s spirit and also to distract the fish away from his body. However, the legend continues, that late one night, the spirit of Qu Yuan appeared before his friends and told them that he died because he had taken himself under the river. Then, he asked his friends to wrap their rice into three-cornered silk packages to ward off the dragon.
These packages became a traditional food known as zongzi (Bak Chang orglutinous rice dumpling). The lumps of rice are now wrapped in leaves instead of silk. The act of racing to search for his body in boats gradually became the cultural tradition of dragon boat racing, held on the anniversary of his death every year on the fifth day of the fifth month (equivalent to Thursday, 9th June, 2016 in the Gregorian calendar)
Kuching has transformed quite tremendously since our previous trip in 2008! The newest shopping mall then was The Spring at Kenyalang Park. Now there were several malls burgeoning the city ~ Plaza Merdeka, CityOne Megamall, Hills Shopping Mall, Boulevard Shopping Mall, Green Heights Mall, etc. All those were new to me when I was back in Kuching last month! With Kuching slowly becoming a concrete jungle, my geography of the city has gone a bit haywire.
We were really fortunate to have a reliable and faithful chaufeuress in the person of my younger sister. Thanks, sis for showing us around and the fact that you took leave from Day 1 of our stay in Kuching, made our trip remarkably easy and comfortable.
Save the Best for Last?
Our ETD was in the evening of 27th Aug. I told my Mum and sisters that ~ as far as possible ~ we wanted to stay away from ‘heavy’ meals at least one day before our departure to avoid embarrassing moments while flying. It wasn’t easy for the boys to shun good foods everyday, so they ended up having a rather heavy porky dinner at Oinks! the night before. My older son was techinally knocked out (TKO) after the heavy, slap up oinky dinner. He slept through the entire morning the next day (our last day in Kuching!!). So did my younger son. LOL!
At around noon on the day of our ETD, my younger sis drove us ~ hubby and I ~ excluding the boys around a residential area. I had absolutely no clue where my sister was bringing us to. We thought she wanted to stop by at her colleague’s house, and yes, she did stop, only to find a parking spot in front of a rather hustle & bustle looking private open car porch smack in the centre of a residential area at Pisang Road West!
It was a double~storey corner unit terrace house, with red lanterns and fake fire crackers dangling as decorations in the open car porch. Wasn’t Chinese New Year celebrated in February? I was curious. My sis didn’t say a word..
The spiked gates were wide open, beckoning us to walk into the open car porch. Then I noticed the familiar sight. I almost screamed with elation! My sister had saved the best for last! She brought us to lunch one of my favourite local dishes ~ Hakka pounded tea rich or more popularly known as Lui Cha (Fon).
Lui = Pounded or crushed
Cha = Tea
Fon = Rice
The owner and chef are a husband-and-wife team. I would not have believed the long-haired, biker/rocker-look Mr Lee was the chef! He certainly cooked up a jolly tasty Lui Cha Fon!
By the way, it was the first time my hubby tasted Lui Cha. His first impression was “Yuck! Green soup with rice and toppings! What the heck am I eating?!” And boy, was he in for a surprise! He had to eat his own words because he actually finished everything! He said the lunch was a discovery for him. He didn’t like the first spoonful but the taste slowly became more and more favourable. It was definitely an acquired taste.
And we licked our bowls completely clean! Yummy!
Verdict: We ordered the regular bowl at RM5 which I regretted at hindsight! I should have ordered the BIG bowl at RM6! It was a light vegetarian dish. Mr Lee and his wife served the Lui Cha with brown rice garnished with 6 “treasures” (cangkuk manis, long beans, chai por, tau hu, Chinese cabbage and roasted peanuts) which was one treasure shy of my Homemade Lui Cha Fon from scratch😜
Honestly speaking, the fact that my Ang Moh (Caucasian) husband was able to finish the entire bowl showed that the Lee’s Lui Cha Fon was not done the authentic and classical or traditional way which would be a lot more bitter and bland. The Lee’s pounded tea rice was lightly enhanced which complemented the tasty minty tea soup. That’s the twist and they played their cards well (commercially). They have converted many Lui Cha haters to lovers with their tasty Lui Cha Fon.
And please don’t forget to try their coconut jelly for RM 2 a pot. It was cool and refreshing. Perfect while waiting for your hot tea rice to be served or superb as dessert. Forget about coming after 1.30pm. The Lee’s are opened for business from 10 am to 2pm only from Mon to Sat.
FYI, I will definitely go back there for the BIG bowl. I have warned my sis 😜