Sunday, October 8, 2017

Hakka "Ai Cao" dumpling 客家艾草粿






If you are of Hakka descent, or one of your parents is, you may have seen this kuih before. The Chinese name for this plant is called AiCao or Aicai 艾草或艾菜). Its English name is Mugwort or Wormwood. Here I will not talk much about the benefits; you can google for more information.

Its slightly bitter in taste and has very strong herb aroma. Due to its unique taste, it is usually not very commonly accepted by people, especially the younger generation.

I hardly see people selling this kuih in the shop or market, let even the fresh aicao. Today I got the courage to make this because I wish to record this dish for my children. Come the day in the future when I am gone, if not for this blog post, nobody will remember what is "aicao ban"(艾草粄).

Note: 'ban' (粄) means kuih (dumpling) in Hakka.

Recipe:

Filling Ingredients:

 (A)
500 g turnip 
5 g black fungus (soaked, cut into trips)
15 g dried shrimps (soaked, drained and diced)
1 shallot (chopped)
1 pip garlic (chopped)
80 g minced pork
1 pc  Chinese leek (washed and cut into 1/2 cm length)

(B) Seasoning:
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp oyster sauce
1/2 tsp sugar
pepper

Method:
1)Skin off turnip, cut into thin strips or shredded
2)  Heat 2 tablespoon of oil  in a wok, saute dried shrimps for few minutes, then add shallots, garlic stir fry  till fragrant.  Add in  minced pork,  cook till the meat is cooked. Then add turnip, fungus and seasoning cook for a while. Add in seasoning (adapt and adjust to your taste bud) and leek, fry well. Dish up and leave to cool for later use.

Skin dough: (yields 20 pcs of dough 25 g each)
50 g fresh ai cao (mugwort) 
50 g rice flour
200 g glutinous rice flour
1 tbsp oil
1/2 tbsp fine sugar

Method:
1) Pick only the young mugwort leaves , discard the old leaves and stems to get 50 g。Wash.

2) Bring to boil with  water just enough to cover. Boil for about 10 to 15 minutes. Use a food processor to blend, drained and get the residue. Do not throw away the water. 

3) Combine glutinous rice flour, rice flour, sugar and the mugwort residue and water to mix well till a pliable dough is formed. I forgot to weigh the water but do not worry. Gradually add water while you are mixing the dough till you get a pliable dough (not too wet).

4) Weigh the dough and take 10 % of the dough.  Take the 10%  small dough divide into 2 or 3 portions.Roll round and flatten, boil the dough in the water (boiled mugwort water from step 2), till it floats on the surface - this is your cooked dough.  Take out and tear into  pieces, add into the dough and knead till a smooth dough. Do not forget to add oil now and knead further for few minutes till you get a smooth and pliable dough. Cover and rest for 10 minutes.

(Adding in the cooked dough helps in your handling during wrapping of the dumpling. )

5) Scale dough into 25 g each. Roll into balls and use your palm or a rolling pin to flatten the dough like a round disc. Put a tablespoon of filling at the center, close the opening and seal properly. You may make into a dumpling shape (饺子jiaozi).

6) Place them on a greased tray (if you do not have banana leaf), steam over high heat for 15 minutes.
     Serve.

Note: If the dough is too wet add more flour. 


Photos

Ingredients for the filling, minced meat is not shown in the picture. Bean curd is optional.
Boil mugwort for 10 to 15 minutes. Blend and strain to get the residue
cooked dough
Add cooked dough in the uncooked dough. Knead the dough  till smooth and pliable
Wrap up with filling, ready to steam
Before (background) and after steaming (foreground)
If you prefer, or you have leftover fillings, you can also make plain skin hakka dumplings without the aicao.  :)

Made plain skin Hakka dumpling with the balance filling.















Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Luo Han Guo dessert -罗汉果糖水


Dear readers, I have been very busy taking care of my grand-daughter, so please pardon my lack of updates! But thank you for coming back to check on me. I am very fine. In fact, during this period, I have been cooking daily and experimenting with new dishes.

Today I finally found the time and mood to take photos of what I prepared. This is Luo Han Guo with Winter Melon sweet soup. Luo Han Guo, otherwise known as  Momordica Grosvenon Fruit, can be found at most Chinese traditional medicine shop / supermarkets. Its benefits include relieving cough and reducing phlegm by moistening the lungs.


Recipe:

Ingredients:

600 g winter melon (discard seeds, peel skin, shredded)
1 luo han gou (wash and cut into half or crack it)
80 g dried longans
5 pieces of Chinese slab brown sugar or 350 g rock sugar
3000 ml water
3 pcs pandan leaves (optional)

Method:

1) Put all the ingredients, except sugar, in a big pot and bring to a boil over high heat.  Turn to low heat, cover, continue to cook for 40 minutes or so.

2) Add in sugar and continue to cook for further 20 minutes.

3) Serve hot or cold.

Slab brown sugar

Do note that if you follow the recipe as above, the dessert will turn out sweet. Feel free to add or reduce ingredients / water to suit your liking.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Purple sweet potato ondeh-ondeh
















This is a really long overdue post. I was just too busy to upload this post.. Today I finally forced myself to have it done before the end of 2016. Thanks to the school holidays, my daughter helped to take videos of some of the preparation process.


Recipe:

Ingredients:
(A)
250 g purple sweet potato, without skin (steamed and mashed)
150 g glutinous rice flour

(B)
1/2 white grated coconut (I bought S$1 from market and is more than enough for this recipe).
A pinch of salt

(C)
3/4 bowl about 250 g of chopped pure gula melaka or palm sugar 

Method:

1) Steam the white grated coconut with salt for 5 - 7 minutes (toss before you steam). I find that by steaming it together with pandan leaves, the coconut comes out more fragrant.

2) In a large mixing bowl, place glutinous rice flour and purple sweet potato. Knead well till it forms smooth pliable dough. (If the dough is too dry, add a little water; or if it is too wet, add a little flour).

3) Pinch a small amount of dough (about the size of a calamansi lime) and roll it in your palm to form a smooth ball.  Make a small well in the centre of the dough and fill it with chopped palm sugar. Pinch dough to seal, roll into ball again. I strongly suggest to make only 5 or 6 balls at a time and boil them (refer to step 4) as soon as possible because if  you leave the balls stand too long, the dough will crack and the gula melaka will start to leak.

4) In a pot of boiling water, drop the balls in and and when the balls float, remove them with a slotted spoon and allow the excess water to drip off.

5) Drop the balls onto the grated coconut and gently coat them evenly, then transfer to a plate . Serve along with a cup of hot tea or coffee. Enjoy.


Monday, September 26, 2016

Mexican Coffee Buns (Roti Boy/ Paparoti Bun)





The buns from Roti boy or Paparoti used to be my favourite. Does anyone remember when the chains in Singapore closed? Are there any outlets remaining? I do know that they are still available in Johore Bahru and other states in Malaysia.

I went to search for similar recipes on Google. I finally selected a recipe from Bake Cook and Create. I like that the bread texture is soft and fluffy and the topping is fragrant. However, I made very minor changes from the original recipe. My family gave the buns thumbs up.


Recipe:
makes 9 buns

Ingredients for the dough:
190 g bread flour
45 g fine sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
7 g instant dry yeast
12 g milk powder
1/2 teaspoon  bread improver (I did not use)
165 ml warm water ( do not pour all the water at a time it has to depend on the size of the egg)
35 g softened butter (room temperature)
1 small egg- lightly beaten

Ingredients for the topping:
100 g softened butter
90 g caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence ( i did not use)
2 small eggs
1 tablespoon instant coffee powder (I used Nescafe Gold Blend)
2 tablespoon warm water
100 g cake flour (I used plain flour)- sifted
(A little milk to adjust consistency if required)

Ingredients for the filling:
100 g good quality salted butter cut into 9 cube pieces
After cutting freeze the cubes

Method:

Dough making:
1) Place all the dry ingredients into a mixing bowl. With the dough hook attachment, whisk slowly to mix the ingredients together, add in egg and water (remember to reserve 30 ml), continue to mix and beat all the ingredients  to form a rough ball (at this stage if the dough is dry, add water to beat). Then add in softened butter, continue to beat dough till smooth and elastic. Put the dough into a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and place at a warm place and let it rest till it doubles in size (about 50-60 minutes).

2)  When the dough has doubled in size, punch down dough to release gas. Divide dough into 10 equal portions. Roll them into balls, Take one of the dough divide into 9 even small balls. Cover with plastic wrap and rest for 5 - 10 minutes.

3) Lightly flatten the small ball of dough and wrap the frozen cubed butter. Then flatten the big dough.  Place the wrapped butter on the main dough. Pleat and seal the edges and roll into balls. Cover  with plastic wrap and to rest in a warm place to proof to about 1,1/2 times in size (about 50-60 minutes.

4) Pipe topping on buns in spiral motion. Bake in a preheated oven at 180 deg C for 15 minutes or till golden brown.

Method for the topping:
1) Dissolve instant coffee powder with 2 tbsp warm water.
2) Beat butter for a minute or so, add in sugar continue to beat till pale and creamy, then add in egg  one at a time. Pour in the coffee mixture, beat for a while.  Then add in the flour in 2 batches. Beat the mixture till smooth and lumps free.
3) Fill piping bag with topping and set in the fridge for later use.








Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Nonya Style Steamed Fish





This recipe has been with me since 2001. Only till today I have the chance to cook it. Quite similar in taste to Thai steamed fish in that it is spicy and sour, however the colours vary. The primary flavour of this dish comes from the distinctive fragrance of  wild ginger bud . Plus tangy lime juice and finely chopped chilli - soon you will find you'll need another bowl of rice.

Side tip - finding it tedious to finely chop chilli, garlic or ginger? Recently I found an excellent lifesaver. I bought this mini cutter for just $5.90 at Isetan. When I usually needed 5 mins or so to chop up all the ingredients with a knife, the mini cutter does the same job in 15 seconds. It's really useful and easy to take apart and wash under running water!



Recipe: adapted from "Home Dining " June  2001 with minor changes

Ingredients:
(A)
1 fish about 600 g or a fish head

Spring onions and coriander leaves for garnishing.

(B)
 Chopped finely
~ 1 stalk wild ginger bud (bunga kantan)
~ 2 stalks lemon grass
~ 10 chilli padi
~ 4 red chlli
~ 50 g ginger
~ 3 pips garlic

(C): Sauce:
~ 1 teaspoon salt
~  2 tablespoon fine sugar
~ 5 tablespoon fresh lime juice
~ 1 tablespoon ikan bilis powder
~  3 tablespoon assam juice  (about  1/2 tablespoon assam paste add water)
~ 2 tablespoon cooking oil
~ 1 teaspoon sesame oil
~ 2 tablespoon corn flour

Method:
1)  Combine ingredients (B) and (C) mix well. Place fish on a steaming plate, pour the mixture on top.
2)  Steam over high heat for about 15 minutes and till done. Sprinkle spring onions and coriander leaves on top. Serve.

TIPS:
This sauce is very versatile. It can be used to cook any other seafood or meat dishes.



Monday, July 25, 2016

Pumpkin Mee Hoon Kueh - 金瓜面粉粿





The photo above appears to be of wanton soup, but actually the yellow ingredients are not wanton skin! This dish is my own unique creation. Mee Hoon Kueh (面粉粿) has always been my family's favourite. Being of Cantonese descent, they love soup very much and always finish down to the last drop! The soup stock was my usual and today, I was feeling adventurous and added pumpkin puree into the dough for the kueh.

Recipe: serves 4 to 5

Ingredients:
(A) Dough:
500 g plain flour
100 g  pumpkin without skin (steamed and mashed)
1/2 egg (lightly beaten)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 tablespoon corn flour
200 g tap water (if it is too dry add a little more water or if it is too wet add a little more of  flour).
1/2 tablespoon of cooking oil

Method:
Knead the above ingredient into a smooth and an  elastic dough. Divide them into a few small dough pieces. Put in a container or plastic bag and put them in the fridge for later use.

(B) Make the stock:
Vegetable (cai xin or mali vegetable)
50 g ikan bilis (lightly fried)
500 g pork ribs
2500 ml to 3000 ml water

(C) Prepare ingredients such as minced meat, fish ball, prawns, meat balls, fried ikan bilis, and others to your liking.

Method:
1) Boil the above stock ingredients for 1/2 hour or more. Add salt to taste.
2) Using your fingers, gently pull a corner of the dough into a thin, bite-sized piece. Peel off and place into the boiling stock.
3) Continue to peel and add pieces. Once in a while, lightly stir.
4) While the dough is 3/4 cooked, add in ingredients from (C).
5) Dish out when meat is cooked/soup has boiled.
6) Serve.  Garnish with fried shallots, fried ikan bilis etc




Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Blueberry Cheese Muffin




What do you like to snack on in the middle of the day? Almost definitely, you would make yourself coffee or tea. It is true for me too. I even made blueberry cheese muffin to go with my coffee today. I like plain muffin but it is usually too dry on its own. So, I added moist cheese and tangy blueberry today and it resulted in a more varied flavour and crumbly texture in every bite. Wash down with a cuppa hot coffee/tea, and the taste is even enhanced.

Bon appetit!

Recipe: adapted from here
Ingredients: makes approx. 6 muffins

Filling (cheese mixture): 115 g cream cheese (room temperature)
                                           1 tablespoon sugar

Method: Beat till fluffy, set aside.

Muffin:
135 g all purpose flour              )
1 teaspoon baking powder         ) sieve together ==> Flour mixture
1/3 teaspoon salt                        )
56 g unsalted butter, room temperature
105 g castor sugar
60 ml fresh milk
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

140 g fresh blueberry, reserve some to put on top of muffins (about 18 pieces 3 for each muffin)

Method:
1) Using a hand whisk or electric mixer, mix sugar and butter until you get an even mixture. Add in egg and vanilla essence into the sugar-butter mixture and mix well till well combined.
2)  Gradually add in the flour mixture, alternatively with milk in 3 batches (remember do not beat  just fold in).  Add blueberry into the mixture.
3)  Spoon some cake batter into a cupcake cup, followed by cheese mixture and top with cake mixture. Repeat for the remaining five cups.
4)  Bake in a preheated oven at 180 deg C for 30 minutes.