Friday, February 22, 2008

Yam Fudge Cake on Chap Goh Meh

We went for a big family dinner tonight at the Sarawak Club for Chap Goh Meh. Nee made this cake & brought it over.

It's a Yam Fudge Cake which has very rich creamy yam fudge layered with moist yam sponge. It's one of those soothing & easy to take, all time favourite kinda cake.

NEE: As this was a last minute thing, I decided to go for real roses for decoration rather than full cream or fruits. I was looking for white roses which goes well with purple and the florist had these creamish ones instead. It goes well I guess with a sweet, weddingy effect.

It's definitely a cake for the uncle & auntie generation who grew up with Kenny Rogers, Jim Reeves, Elvis Presley, John Denver, Dolly Parton, Donny & Marie, & Anne Murray. And it really went down well with them tonite.

However, it wasn't such a hit with the under 30-year-old cousins. This is the Britney Spears' bunch. They drink Starbucks & Coffee Bean, & go for cheesecakes.

We realised that there is always a sentimental attachment to a type of cake that is hot during their time, and that stays with them. And it is pretty hard for it to cross over to another generation younger than them.

We hypothised that the trend must have started off with local egg rolls, traditional kuih, pandan kaya yam sponges, fresh cream cakes, and now rich cheese & chocolate cakes, and probably going into French gateaus, mousses & petite fours in the younger generation to come. We'd never thought so much of the link between cakes & generation gaps, but it is interesting to realise that it's there. Good God, Nee is already spoiling little kids with expensive Dark Belgium chocolates in her cakes, setting the next trend to come.

But for now, let's just eat & enjoy the family reunion. Happy Chap Goh Meh to all readers of Greg & Nee!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Secret (Foochow Red Wine)

Ok boys & girls, time for a little Aunty Nee's history lesson.

The Foochows in Sibu have a deep dark secret.

In the Fujian province of China, seafood are abundant and hence the love of seafood in the dishes. There was also an obsession with soup. In terms of taste, sweet and sour seems to be more prominent. These preferences were indirectly brought into this land when the foochow farmers enlisted by Wong Nai Siong, started settling along the Rajang Basin.

Foochow red wine or "Uang Chew" in foochow is distinctly sweet with a tinge of sourish end(not completely sour. That would be a sign of Uang Chew going bad) as compared with other cooking alcohol like Hua Tiaw.

The Foochow community in Sarawak, to be very blunt, cannot live without this item in their cooking. Our friend Tez used to say that Foochows are alcoholics. Him and all his brothers and cousins for that matter are such good drinkers and they credited Ah Ma (their grandma) for feeding them with dishes cooked with this. We all started on Foochow Red Wine since babies (Mothers in confinement used bottles of this in their confinement food and it went into our system as they breastfed. See the link?!!). Hmm.. hopefully, this article will not cause any Child Protection Agency to go knocking on doors. Foochows do have a pretty high number of doctors, lawyers and engineers, and of course shrewd businessmen.

The Foochow Red Wine features in practically most of their famous dishes ~Mien Xien, Chao Chu, Chow Chai Soup and Mee Fern, Midin stir fry with Red wine, Ang Chaw Duck/Chicken and so forth. It is just so tantalising nice to have a few drops of it in our food.

Another distinctive feature of this wine is that it's a backyard industry. It used to be that you can only find it in Sibu. With the migration of Foochows all over the place, this item can now be found in many backyards. Greg went "Is this legal?" It's culture duh. Nowadays you can ask around and they will be certainly some hawkers or homemakers selling it. Per bottle it ranges from RM6 to RM8. The only thing is some may be more diluted which we foochows consider poor. Good quality ones are rich and concentrated with a reddish colour and has such wonderful aroma (just like durians to some people), sided towards fruity and sweetish in taste.

With reference to Sarawakiana who is an avid and detailed foochow blogger, Uang Chew (13.8 - 15% alcohol content) involves fermentation of Glutinous Rice, Red Rice Bran also known as Monascus Purpureus or Red Yeast (Thank you, Sarawakiana. Been trying to find a proper name for it) and Wine Biscuit or “Jiu Bing” (available in most groceries stores). Monascus Purpureus is an essential fungus used in the production of certain fermented foods in many Asian countries particularly in China and Japan.

Thanks to Yi Po who gave me the recipe and method, which is handed down from my Great Grandma, and of course Aunty Linda who had tried this before. I was ecstatic to try it out and document it. And here it goes.

The process is as follows:

1) Clean all utensils well and dry them properly. Any dirt will cause the end product to turn sour, i.e. FAILURE. So even the whole process looks gross. It actual requires absolute cleanliness. According to some grandma's tale, ladies having menses must not touch the red wine making process as it would turn sour immediately. I tend to see it as hormone. So ya, my Uang Chew is absolutely clean and I am clean too.

2) Cook approximately 1.5 kg of glutinous rice with water in normal rice cooker. Once cooked, take it out and set aside to cool overnight.

3) Once the glutinous rice is properly cooled, take in lumps and coat with blended red rice bran (use approximately 300gm). Place in clean jar. And add some crushed wine biscuits. For this amount, crush 2-3 wine biscuits and apply some on every layers . Pour in approximately 800 gm to 1 litre of filtered water. Less if you like your Uang Chew really concentrated and more vice versa.

4) Cover with a piece of clean cloth held tight with rubber band/strings.

The Science:
During the fermentation process, the red rice mixture will start to float upwards causing 'boiling' bubbles and these form the essential Uang Chew. This stage will happen between 24 to 48 hours and will last for another few days. At this stage, it is important to stir the mixture at least twice a day to avoid overflowing or use only half a jar/container. During this process, the red rice mixture will separate from the liquid and stay afloat.

The mixture will then stabilise and red rice will slowly sink back towards the bottom of jar after a week or so (This is when the cloth can be taken off and replaced with a proper lid or on top of the cloth, cover with a metal bowl). The entire procedure will take approximately a month or so.

The whole content will then be filtered with a piece of white clean cloth hanged and allowing it to drip. In my case, I place a piece of cloth on a strainer. Pour the whole jar content onto the cloth and strain it overnight. To squeeze dry, I placed a huge bottle of water on the bundle. The liquid is the Foochow Red Wine (Uang Chew) . My recipe yeilds 5 bottle of concentrated red wine. Beer bottles were washed and dried. Then a little Uang Chew was poured into each bottles and thrown away. Then filled each bottle. This way the Uang Chew will last better.

And the lees or the residues is the Ang Chow, which is kept for various cooking purposes and of course to make the famous Foochow perserved vegetable Chow Chai. I did not strain my mixture too dry as what some people would do. Because wetter chow would make tastier dishes as it still contain some Uang Chew.

All utensils must be clean and dry.
It is normal to see mouldy substance on top of the red rice mixture at the early stages especially during the 24 -48 hours as fermentation is only beginning. Stir the mixture if you see this as alcohol will kill the mouldy substance off and hence making it negligible. But if mouldy substance is seen floating on the Uang Chew, it is a goner.
Water vap is also normal at the early stages.

I worried so much during the initial stage and go peeping on my concoction so many times a day, so i hope these tips will help.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Unveiling of Horror

Remember this?

What evil lurks inside the urn?

Sometimes I feel that when Nee is in her kitchen, she reminds me of a mad scientist working on a secret project in the lab, with lightning & thunder & crazy electricity everywhere.

Well, the time has come for the unveiling of Nee's mad creation! Are you ready??!!!

It's the almighty Foochow Red Wine!!!

Another Eat-Together-gether

Nee likes to feed people, and I like to be fed. And that's why we're together. (^_^) Nolah, I'm just being cheeky again. But we both really enjoy having friends over for dinner.

It's interesting how food has evolved from an act of survival into a focal point for social gathering. I always think that food unites us somewhat, as a family, as friends, as a society, & please don't laugh here, even as a nation. I've always said that if the different races of Malaysia can't sit down together at a table for a meal, then there's not much hope for unity.

But that's too serious for a blog like this. After all, this is just a blog about food & travel. And we had another eat together-gether again with a few close friends last week ~ Ad and Wong who came back for CNY holidays from UK. It was just a simple dinner with home-cooked meals.

The night opened with this - Nee's first attempt with Meat Roll stuffed in Sea Cucumber with superior sauce. Sorry, it was supposed to be with the sauce, but I missed that one.

So very the flower. You should have seen how it was made.
When I got home from work, I saw this thing.

I thought she had an alien creature under her captivity,
& it was conveniently steamed to death for dinner.
Either that or she went snorkelling without my knowledge.

NEE: My first attempt. Josephine knowing that I am so busy prior to CNY offered to help me buy sea cucumber and she chose huge ones for me. Unfortunately, the largeness actually came from being soaked with water for too long and thus it turned soft. And it went broken upon just touching it. Maybe we should be less greedy next time and go for smaller ones. And i should be more hardworking and start soaking my sea cucumber in December.

Indonesian Style Spicy and Sweet Pork Ribs

Excellent Rendang, Malaysian style.

Steamed scallop bits with Wombok. The first time we had this was at a kopitiam restaurant manned by the ex-Master Chef Sifu of the once great Tsui Hua Lau restaurant. And as usual, what Nee sees, Nee can photostate also.

Nee's superior chicken abalone soup. Simple, pure, healthy stock from wild & free kampung chickens all the way from Sarikei!

Ad & Wong also brought chicken satay from Hui Sing Garden,
including the infamous White Lady & Matterhorn drinks.

And we finished the night off with Nee's leftover Chinese New Year lapis and cheese cakes. The night was finished, but not the leftover cakes.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Nee's Lapis Recipe (Plain)

Sancha (Haw Flakes) Lapis

A long long time ago, one of our readers asked me for a Lapis recipe. To be very honest, I kind of forgotten about it until Christmas. Then I got too busy to write at all. Now that I am back to the blog, I thought that'd better be the first thing that i do.

I make a fair bit of lapis or layer cakes over the course of my so called baking experience as this is a very popular cake in Sarawak during festive seasons especially Hari Raya and Chinese New Year. Almost every household has at least one of them. In my previous blog I talked about different types of layers cakes but those that I made seriously for our own households for festive seasons like Chinese New Year are those flavoured layered ones.

The recipe here is a plain lapis. I cannot say this is a basic lapis recipe because there is no basic lapis. With different flavoured ingredients added, the number of eggs, butter & flour content do tend to change as well depending on the ingredients added (a little chemistry involved i suppose).

This plain lapis however can be modified if you want to use flavourings such as banana essence, yam essence, choc essence, pandan essence and so on. This recipe could also be used to make pattern lapis and lapis rolls. I rarely use flavourings because I am very strict with myself with it comes to natural taste of my cakes. So if I say i made prune lapis, it will have whole bag of prunes in it and choc lapis will have real choc in it and so on.

Prune Lapis

Latest Addition to the Nee's Lapis Family: Choc Mint Lapis with Choc Chips

Plain Lapis Recipe:
25 no of egg yolks
5 no of egg white
250 gm of icing sugar
1 tbsp of ovalette or cake emulsifier

1) Beat above at high speed til mixture become white and lines are appearing as whisk moves through the batter. Turn to low.

425 gm of butter
2 tbsp of condensed milk
1 tbsp of vanilla essense

2) Beat well. Add to (1). Continue on low.

150 gm of plain flour, sifted

3)Add flour to the mixture. Mix well. Stop beating. Gently stir the mixture to make sure it is well mixed.

4) Add essence and colourings.

5) Preheat oven at 225 to 250 deg on grill mode, ie upper fire only. Grease and line the base of an 8 inch sq tray. Take 3-4 tbsp of battter and spread evenly. Bake for 2-3 min til batter is cooked. Press gently with a flat surface item or presser to make sure that each surface is even and to avoid air bubbles in the layer. Repeat with another 3-4 tbsp of batter til batter finish. Cool completely before storing in fridge. Wrapped cake with glade wrap and aluminium foil or store in air tight container. It will last for at least 2 months.

Mocha Lapis with Dark And White Choc

Chunky Yam Lapis with Coconut

Cheese Lapis
Also available are the Traditional Lapis with Spices and Peppermint Drop Lapis but I did not include them this Chinese New Year.

Nuffnang Ad