Saturday, November 17, 2007

Pickled Chillis

Greg has been bugging me for this thing. Every time we have Kolo Mee or Kuey Tiaw at home, he would go on and on about how nice it is if there was Red Chilli Padi sauce. I have a bottle of Green Pepper Chillis from Yi Po but he still wants his red. So, yesterday I could not take it anymore and decided to do up a bottle and shut him up.

Anyway, Chillis are going for RM6/kg, really fresh as well. Pickled chillis are very nice with fried and soupy noodles, rice noodles and rice sticks. It's always handy to keep a bottle at home. Here's the recipe.

40 gm of chilli padi
220gm of red pepper chillis
1/2 bottle of white vineger
40 gm of sugar
3/4 tbsp of salt
A clean glass jar with tight lid

1) Clean red pepper chillis well and cut to round slices. Put them on a metal strainer and shake so that seeds can loosen from the chillis. Clean chilli padis and leave them as they are.

2) Boil white vinegar with sugar and salt. Let it cool slightly.

3) Place some chillis into the jar, top with some chilli padis and pour some vinegar on top. Alternate till all ingredients finish. Let it cool before covering with lid and store a few days in the fridge before eating.

Tip: Dont pour hot boiling vinegar mixture straight into chillis as you do not want to cook the chillis. Cooked ones will turn soft after storing for a while.
Use warm ones as you just want to kill the bacteria and the chillis will retain the crunch.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

White Boiled Fatty Beef with Vegies

Dont let the Fatty Beef deceive you. White boiled is Ba Zu in Chinese which means boiling in plain water. Fatty beef is Fei Nu Rou, the cut that has some fat but thinly sliced (the shabu shabu style or sukiyaki style slices).

This is a nice, healthy, clear and most importantly fast dish. You can choose your own favourite vegies or whatever you have in your fridge. Both items are just boiled. Some restaurants in Australian Chinatowns actually serve this as a restaurant dish. But the catch is it is nice to be eaten immediately after cooking.

250gm of shabu shabu cut beef (buy from butchers, dont bother cutting yourself as results are no good unless you are a samurai)
2 big handful of Toa Miaw/Ti Wang Miaw or 1 bunch of kailan/choysum/xiyang chai
One pot of boiling water
1/2 teasp of minced garlic
1 teasp of cooking oil
1 tbsp of light soy
1 no of medium size red pepper chillis or mixed with green ones, sliced
1 1/2 tbsp of maggi seasoning
1 teasp of sugar
5-6 tbsp of soup from boiling beef and vegies, more if you like the dip lighter

1) Boil water with a few drops of cooking oil. When boiling, add vegies. Boil till vegies are cooked. Different timing for different vegies.

2) Dish out and season with minced garlic, oil and light soy. Set aside.

3) With the same pot of water, add beef. Shabu shabu to separate the pieces but dont tear them. Boiled for 3-5 minutes. More if you like it well done. Dish out and place on top of vegies. Serve with dip.

4) Mix all the ingredients for dip. Serve in separate bowl.

Makes a rather presentable dish with the meat and the greens. Dont throw away leftover water. You can add some bones and make them as superior stock for other dishes.

The Makan Makan (Eat Eat) Culture

Flower arrangement, gift from Auntie Rose and Uncle Theng

We sometimes take it for granted, but food actually plays a major role in our lives. I'm not talking about eat-to-live. We know that one already. Today we should have already evolved out of that primal stage. Food is no longer just for survival purposes. In many communities, food has become a culture, something that binds people together & enriching their lives in the process.

In many cultures, when people meet up, it is usually over a meal, either eat in or eat out. It is almost like we need excuses to see our friends and family. Instead of "I want to see you", we would say "Come over and eat". Besides that, the Chinese especially, dont like to see their guests just sitting there talking. We prefer them eating. And if they are not eating, we shove the food onto their plates. And if they are still not eating, we would tell them to eat. Good polite guests will oblige and kindly praise you for all the efforts you have put in, even if it is the worst food they have ever tasted.

So naturally when Greg's Auntie Rose & Uncle Theng came from Canada, we invited them over for dinner. And yes, it revolved around food. And the menu was Vietnamese dishes. The reason why I did Vietnamese was because it has more fresh ingredients and vegetables, and of course, not as oily as the Chinese way of cooking.

There was The Beef Pho ~ National anthem of Vietnamese Cuisine. Thin Rice Noodles in Beef broth served with an array of fresh vegies like basils from the garden, lemon wedges, bean sprouts, chillis. It is a tasty yet clear dish, which was good for the travellers who had just gotten back from the land of the White people. My Mum-in-law actually thought I made the Rice Noodles (That will probably be one of the things that i would never be bothered with heheh).

Then there was Vietnamese Spring Rolls ~ Pork and Carrots wrapped in Rice Paper, deep fried to crispy and served wrapped in fresh Lettuce, dipped in Fish Sauce Dip.

Finally there was the Banh Mi ~ Vietnamese Baguettes with Homemade Pate, Roast Pork and pickled vegies. One thing good about homemade is that baguettes were served straight out of the oven and all the meat and vegies were prepared fresh.

The guests were happy as it was not so heavy a meal and most importantly not so oily. Very important point when your guests are over 50s. We were of course very happy to have them gracing our home together with Uncle Francis (SayKoo) and Auntie Francesca (SayKim), Uncle John (2Koo) and my MIL and FIL. Especially, Auntie Francesca who is an avid Vietnamese food fan. So I happily had my all these extra 'guinea pigs'.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Quest for the Holy Crisp

This is the kind of horror story that you'd hear on a dark scary night in front of the campfire.

No, Nee did not build a bonfire. It's just an example.

In Kuching there are a lot of hawkers selling deep fried stuff such as fried chicken, yu char koey (Yu tiaw), ham chee peng & banana fritters. And sometimes we do buy a few home cos they're usually irresistible.

The attraction factor here is the crisp level. The crispier it is, the more satisfaction we get. It is about getting that KA-CHA KA-CHA feel when we bite into it. The more KA-CHA, the happier we become, and the more we buy. For the hawkers, the crispier it is, the longer lasting it will be. And so began their quest for the Holy Grail of Crisp. The more KA-CHA, the more KA-CHING. No KA-CHA, No KA-CHING.

In recent years, in the quest for the Holy Crisp, certain hawkers have resorted to less than holy methods purportedly originated from neighbouring Thailand Sawadeekap. Unbeknownst to innocent & hungry consumers like us, this imported 'technology' included adding a secret ingredient into the hot boiling oil. And this secret ingredient is plastic. Yes, PLASTIC. Plastic bag, raffia strings & plastic straws to melt in cooking oil. Malaysia BOLEH.

It makes us think of all the banana fritters that we've sapu-ed. The yu char koay that we've walloped. Mr. Plastic must be happily sticking to the geat walls of our intestine. I wonder if our bodies are absorbing the right nutrients as it should. Or is it absorbing plastic? Scary isn't it?

Isn't this even scarier? It's right in our face & the authorities can't/won't do anything about it.

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Imperial Golden Pillow Pancakes

This is a yummy-in-my-tummy snack, which is quite easy to make. But hey, pancakes have always been yummy on its own anyway. Deviating from our usual pancakes, Golden Pancakes has an addition of surprise sponge secretly tucked inside. You can choose to make them in square or rectangle shapes. And of course this is an interesting way to modify your basic sponge cakes, giving them a delightful twist in taste and presentation. During cell on Friday, we ended up eating them with ice cream. Verdict: Thumbs up! Greg calls them The Imperial Golden Pillows.

1 no of 8" X 10" thin sponge cake (refer to recipe for sponges)

1) Cut into equal rectangles or squares

225gm of butter
90gm of sugar
90gm of plain flour,sifted
1 no of egg
5 no of egg yolks
150gm of fresh milk

2)Melt butter and sugar, stir till sugar dissolves.

3)Add plain flour and continue stirring with a hand whisk till creamy.

4)Add egg and egg yolks. Continue stirring.

5)Add fresh milk and continue stirring till smooth.

6)Heat a 8 inch or so on non stick frying pan with medium fire. Pour a scoop of batter onto the pan and cook the batter thinly over low to medium fire. When pancake is almost cooked, place sponge piece on it, wait for 30 sec or so and wrap like a parcel in the pan. Dish out and place on dish. Serve.

The recipe can make approx 12-14 no of golden pancakes.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Sponge Cake ~ The All in Method

Sponge Cakes have ingredients that is so basic yet it is not easy to make at all. It is believed to be the first unleavened item made and usually it is the first cake for any beginning bakers like horse stands are to Chinese kungfu.

To qualify as a good sponge cake, it needs to very soft, moist yet light, a little like cotton candy. The whole cake will have very even airholes and hence making it airy fluffy and the texture fine. It looks plain yet it is flavourful and not many people can refuse a good sponge.

Sponges can be eaten as it is, sometimes added with other flavours like chocolate, pandan etc. Sponge cakes are also commonlt used as bases for many cakes thus creating a whole new range of delightful treats ~ swiss rolls, ladyfingers, madelines, cupcakes, lamingtons; bases for cream cakes, cheese cakes, mousse cakes and so forth. Chiffon in fact is derived from sponge cakes.

There are quite a few types sponge making methods. All methods need great care in incorporating air into the batter and hence lifting the cake. The method chosen will determine the mainly the texture of the end results.

First and foremost, there is the chiffon method. With this method, you need separate the egg yolks with the whites . Beat egg whites with sugar till glossy. Beat egg yolks and add them to white mixture. Then gently fold in the dry ingredients and finally the fats like melted butter or corn oil. This type of sponge is usually soft and foamy, almost like you could feel the water coming out of the cake.

Then there is the Victorian Sponge method, which is the most traditional method. This will require you to beat the eggs till thick. Then adding the sugar and continue whisking to glossy and pale. Finally gently fold in the dry ingredients, milk and melted butter. This method will tend to produce sponges that is soft but somehow coarser in texture (larger airholes).

Victorian method had also been modified slightly with heating of the eggs to 40 deg celcius, then whisking it with sugar to the pale and thick (will take approximately 4- 5 min or so). Then the dry ingredients are added followed by milk and melted butter or corn oil. This sponge tend to be finer in its texture and is soft and light. It is however, lacking of the fluff.

And there is also the modern modification which is an easy all-in method. This method requires you to whisk all ingredients except melted butter together at high speed. This method produces very soft, light and fluffy sponges with fine airholes. However, it has a substance called ovalette added. Ovalette also know as cake emulsifier or sponge stabilisers are commonly added to butter and sponge cakes to create volume, fluff and smoothness. It is nearly impossible to to whisk without it unless maybe adding additional egg whites to the recipes to create the volume. I had experiment whisking with and without ovalette. The wonders of baking sciences!

Left: With ovalette, results was obtained within minutes. Right: Without. Whisking after 15 minutes.

Besides, the methods and recipes of making, the procedures in making sponges must also be done with care. It is a sensitive cake. Failed sponges are usually caused by two culprits the beating to incorporate air (over or under) and the motion of folding in dry ingredients or fats like melted butter (uneven mixing).

All in Method:
This is the most common method of sponge making.
4 no of big fresh eggs
1/4 tsp of cornstarch
115 gm of plain flour sifted
3/4 tsp of baking powder
115 gm of fine or icing sugar
50 gm of water
45 gm of melted butter
1/2 tbsp of ovalette or cake stabiliser
200 gm of sponge mix (no ovalette is used but sponge mixes would have cake emulsifier and most bakeries will use this and ovalette at the same time to create more volume)
200 gm of eggs
50 gm of water
45 gm of melted butter

1) Put all ingredients in the mixing bowls with the wet first, followed by the dry on top. Set aside melted butter to cool slightly.

2) Start mixing at low speed for 30 sec or so or until dry ingredients are slightly wet. Turn to high speed whisking at max. The mixing is only completed when deep whisking lines started to appear and when you stop machine, the batter will hardly drip from the lifted whisk. Usually 8-10 min depending on volume and your mixer.

3) Gently fold in melted butter. Use hand with the motion reverse S. Make sure that the incorporation is even. Uneven folding will cause lumps in the sponges or even worse a whole layer of hard cake at the bottom.

4) Pour into bottom greased and lined 8 inch cake tin. Spread mixture evenly and bake at 165 -170 deg cel without fan for 25-35 minutes. Test for doneness with skewer. If you press baked cake and a LOUD 'Sha sha' noise is produced, surface may not be entirely baked. Continue baking for another 3- 5 min. High heat may caused sponges to dry out and top cracked.

5) Turn out cake after at least 10 min after it comes out of the oven. Cool on cooling rack. Keep sponges in airtight containers if you are not using immediately. Otherwise, serve or use.

Nuffnang Ad