Tham Jiak means in some way "love to eat" in Hokkien. I am a Malaysian Hokkien and truly love to eat.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Cham-cham of Cultures

Rojak is one of the unique cuisine of Malaysia. The word rojak is of Malay origin, which means, cham-cham, that is the mixture of things. Who would ever know that mixture of this and that from each culture would form such a medley wonderful tastes that excites the palate. There are two distinct rojak here in Malaysia, one is the Chinese version which is we called the rojak buah (fruit rojak), which do have other stuff besides fruits such as vegetables, tofu and keropok. These are then mix in a dressing, made up of belachan (shrimp paste), sugar, chilli, lime juice, dark sauce, prawn paste, black bean paste and so forth, with each rojak comes in its own variation and then top with chopped peanuts and bunga kantan (torch ginger). As for the Indian rojak, which is commonly known as pasembor here are mainly consists of fried dough fritters, hard boiled egg, prawn fritters, fried tofu and cucumbers all mixed in dressing of spicy peanut sauce, usually comes in stall that also serves cendol; one day I will talk more about this. I had discussed with J whether the idea of rojak is originated from the Chinese or the Indian culture. But for sure, it is truly a unique Malaysia cuisine. Come to think of it, rojak is actually a mixture of the three main cultures in Malaysia, since the use of belachan, which is a Malay paste and of course, the name itself is a Malay word.

One of the best fruit rojak I have tasted in town is this rojak stall in my new neighbourhood, which parks right opposite KFC. This is just a coincidence that it is in my neighbourhood, as I have long been hooked to it way before I shifted here. My cousin is the one who first brought it for me one day, when I was craving for some rojak, and I was hooked. Thus, fate must have somehow got me to stay here, and so one day (a recent one) on the way home, I took diversion there to get a pack for tea time snack. I ordered the usual Rojak Special, without the sotong (squid). I spied a newspaper cutting of a review of the stall, pasted there, which titles something like “the tastiest rojak in town”, I could not agree more. Since it’s so yummy, naturally you have to wait a little as there would be people all around. So I took the time to take some pictures of the stall and then the owner (the guy on the left with the apron) caught me in the act.

“You working for any press or organization?”

“Oh, no! I write all this just for fun.” I laughed

“For fun? How?”

“Oh, I write it onto the internet.”

“You can do that? I would love to see it.”

“Uncle, you play internet too?” I was shocked.

“Nah, but my son does. You can write this up for free?”

“Oh yea, you can post it up for free and then whoever reads it, uh - reads it.” Mentally whacking myself for not being able to describe blogging properly in Chinese.

“Oh, I must do too, as promotion for this stall” He smiled.

The thought of a blog, dedicated to promote a rojak stall cross my mind in a flash. “Sure you can, uncle” I said, flashing a big grin at him.

“I can leave my address for you, and have your son show my site to you. He can learn from there.”

Out of sudden, the wife who has been quiet all along, agrees with this, open the drawer and whips out a pen and a paper. Still in a faze, I wrote down my address, keeping in mind I better write this review quick, or they will be viewing with disappointment.

Then finally I got my pack of rojak, which the wife prepares all the while when I am chatting with the husband, and bid goodbye. I left with a smile on my face and their faces too, from the lovely conversation and also of course, the thought of able to devour my favourite rojak when I got home.

I open the pack of rojak and boy was it yummy looking. This rojak is consists of fruits, such as pineapple, guava, and many more that I forgot. Then there are the veggies, such as cucumber, sengkuang (jicama) and kangkung (water convolvulus). There are also tofu slices and the usual Indian keropok found in most rojak. The specialty that sets this rojak aside from the rest is the addition of fried youtiao (dough fritters) which is fried to the crisp (in oppose to the usual softer chewy ones), and the dried squid which gives a whole new dimension of taste to the rojak. But overall, as usual, the tastiness of one rojak lies heavily on the sauce itself, and this sauce, is absolutely yummy, enough belachan spiciness and the right sweetness. The sauce is coated all around the medley of fruits, veggies, tofu and keropok and then generously topped with chopped peanuts. Oh, yummy! It is hard to describe how a rojak taste like, until one taste it themselves, so go try it, if you are one of the lucky people who are in Malaysia, best yet in town to try out this stall.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Scouring My New Neighbourhood

Not much cooking on my side yet. My new house has yet to really settle in yet. Getting through the kitchen still means climbing over bags and avoiding stuff clattered on the floor. Then the hall is half way packed too. Besides that, I have started joining a fitness centre, thus more time is spent going to classes and enjoying the last week of my freedom till my working life starts. I must do more cooking next week for it would be my last days of freedom. For now it is lazy days for me with ample time to enjoy my breakfasts. To think about it, I get to enjoy every other meal too, he-he. Another thing that is stopping me from regular blogging is that my new house does not have internet connection! Gasp! Oh well, all I can do is write first, save it and publish in J’s house. All in all for my love of food, writing and of course my dear readers.

For now, let this lazy cook here introduce you to a place to eat, which I had gone to in my new neighbourhood. This place has one of nicest claypot lo shi fan (rat tail noodles). These noodles, if I’m not mistaken is made of rice flour, short, fat in the middle and pointed off towards both end. It used to be my favourite noodle when I was very young until there was a rumor that it has lots of preservatives which could be harmful and from there I had turn to like mai fun (rice vermicelli) more. but till now, lo shi fun is still my occasional pick for its special chewiness addition to the usual noodles. Before this I always ate it with cheng teng (clear soup) like those which Taiping is famous for, but when I came down to KL, I discovered the dark sauce and dry version of lo shi fun. Till now I love the claypot ones best, as when cooked in clay, it imparts a special rustic flavour and keeps the noodles hot all the way. This claypot lo shi fun that is better than among all that I ate (except the one in Uptown, which sadly have shifted), was first introduced by my aunty. Then as now I have shifted nearby, I bring my 1984 housemate there one day. She once say that she love the one at Murni (SS2) but I was aghast! No way was Murni good, so I took her to this one to let her taste what real Chinese claypot lo shi fun taste like.

It was less good than the last time I remembered it but it was still delish. I love the serving of the raw egg on top, cooking slowly in its heat. Once stir, it will coat the noodles nicely to a silky texture, which contrast nicely with the bite of the lo shi fun.

Besides this, we decided to try another noodle, and I was drawn towards this dish that has ginger in it. I love ginger in most things, even my tea, which we call it Teh Halia here at the mamakshor fun (flat rice noodle) with ginger beef. It was not bad too, with the beef soft enough and the ginger flavour just nice.
(local Indian Muslim restaurants). This one is like fry

Overall, although a bit pricey than the usual siu chow (literally for fry stuff) out there, the portion is big and the taste is great. Give it a try if ever you are in my new neighbourhood, which is TTDI.

Mama’s Kitchen,
48, Jln Datuk Sulaiman,
TTDI, 60000 KL
Tel: 03-7729 3030l

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Reminiscence of Ah Ma’s Cooking

Pusiva had tag me on this Meme called ‘10 things I missed about mum’s cooking’. Yes, many people do have fond memories of their mother’s cooking. Everybody has their favourite dish, only achievable by their mum. As for me, yes I do remember vaguely of few times that my mother cooked for us, but if you ask me to name my childhood memories of missed home cooked food, I would have to talk about my Ah Ma’s (grandmother) cooking. She used to cook everyday when I was young, and I have many memories of her simple yet delicious cooking. As she is less fanciful, she usually cook most of the same simple Chinese home cook food, which we simply adore and would not trade it even for the best Chinese cuisines out there.

I remember days when I was in the morning school (we in Malaysia had two sessions of school in a day, depending on which year you are in), I would rush back in the afternoon waiting to see what is on the table. Then there are years when I was in the afternoon school, where I usually had to go to school earlier than lunch, thus I had to endure the time when I come back for dinner to eat the leftovers, usually listening to my sister (who always happens to be of the opposite school time) bragging about the finished favourite dish.

When I was near my teens, my Ah Ma’s children all chided her from cooking, as they want her to enjoy her life and relax. Thus begin the years that I had to cater for food (really bad food memories, but which should be the beginning of my interest in own cooking) and only occasional treats from my Ah Ma’s cooking. From then, we missed her cooking so much, once a while we would beg her to satisfy some of our cravings. As for now, let me list down the top 10 food (pictures here are my cooking for illustration only) that I missed dearly, though there are many more, I have to say my favourites are:

Chow Fan (Fried Rice)
Ah Ma’s chow fan is the best. Ok, this may seem like a cliché but it is true, for me at least. She can do the meanest ‘white’ chow fan, with no dark soy sauce, big succulent prawns (her secret) and sometimes chopped long beans, chicken or pork and that’s about it. Real simple but good eats definitely. I had yet to achieve her white chow fan level, usually succumbing to the dark ones as it is easier to flavour them. My Ah Ma’s chow fan is good to eat just on its own (though my sister and cousin like to eat with lots of tomato sauce) and I can never ever get enough of it. Sigh, I miss it so much. Before this, long time ago, she used to add in frozen mixed vegetables (green peas, cubed carrots and corns), which I would pick out one by one when I eat it. Frozen stuffs are just not good, the peas are too tough, the carrots are tasteless and the corns just don’t belong there). Then one day she knew about it and fried a separate chow fan for me without those, and oh boy, was I touched. She loves me, doesn’t she? Then finally she evolved to leave it out completely, which become to now her ultimate chow fan!

Chow Mang Kuang (Stir-fried yam bean)
My Ah Ma chow (stir-fry) the meanest mang kuang. The mang kuang will be sliced uniformly with mandolin then stack up neatly to slice into sticks. Her secret is that all the mang kuang is of about the same length and thickness so that it will cook together thoroughly. The same thing goes with the carrots, though she would put less of it. The carrots lend to more complex texture, colour and taste of course. Superb! She chow it with some minced pork, small prawns and lots of garlics! Yummy!

ABC tong (ABC soup)
Of course I love ALL of my Ah Ma’s cheng tong (clear soup). As a Cantonese, she boils soup frequently. Her usual soups are lou wong kwa (old cucumber), lotus roots with peanuts and yok choy kai (herbal chicken). All these soups deserve an individual post themselves, but oh well, when I cook it next time, I’ll talk about it. But if I had to choose between the soups, I would have the ABC soup. Why? Well, my Ah Ma just do this one best, her secret is the crushed peppercorns that she added in with the carrots, tomatoes, potatoes, big onions and of course pork ribs. She just know how much to add of each ingredient bringing in the right blend of the perfect soup. It serves well for cold and rainy days and also for the sick. But to me, it serves best whichever day or weather or condition.

Zhao Har (Prawn fritters)
Ah Ma had somehow perfected the method of zhao har (fry prawns). She uses the right mixes of flour, with enough seasoning (pepper and I forgot what else) and then the right amount of water and eggs to dilute it to the right consistency. She told me the process once long time ago but I forgot (shame on me)! Anyway, she would then dip the huge prawns into the mixes, holding by the tail, and submerged it into the hot oil. She said no overcrowding, the oil must be hot, and to lower the prawns slowly to avoid the dough spreading (and of course oil splattering). Thinking bout it makes my mouth water. Soon there would be big prawn fritters, with the crust all puff up leaving the prawns inside soft and succulent. When you bite into it, it tastes like heaven!

Fan Shu Chu Yok (Dark sauce Potato and pork)
This one is my personal favourite. Whenever my Ah Ma cooks this, half of it is usually finished by me alone. It was never enough for me. Even after I finished my rice, I would sit there and keep poking at more potato and more pork and devour it. I had to pull myself away from the table, telling myself to leave some for others. Ha-ha. Yes, it is that good. I craved for it a lot when I first came down to study. Ah Ma’s secrets are, first the potatoes must be sliced thinly and uniformly (her personal skills), then it is shallow fried in batches to perfection, crispy on the outside but still soft and crumbly inside. Then she would sliced the pork (she uses the loins) thinly and then marinate it first with soy sauce, dark soy sauce and sugar. Then she would stir fry it with the potatoes. Now though I had learn to make it, I can never achieve the same results (maybe I was too lazy to slice all the potatoes uniformly and fry it batch by batch diligently) and usually now, I would use the shorter way, just parboiling the potatoes and then chop it up and make my own fan shu chu yok. I kid myself it is healthier, thus less tasty than Ah Ma’s.

Hong Tao Sui (Red Bean Soup)
Why would I miss my Ah Ma’s hong tao sui? Well hers is usually different from the outside (not to say better, but different), as she would not boil all the beans to mush, usually leaving them with enough crunch and resulting in a clearer soup. Then she would add in dried mandarin oranges skins (her secret, she always have one doesn’t she) which would lend a citrusy taste to the else usual hong tao sui. Every time after Chinese New Year, I would see her diligently put the orange skins out to sun for few days in a row (yes she makes her own dried mandarin orange skins), usually keeping an eye for the rain (which is superbly frequent and unpredictable in Malaysia weather, worst yet, Taiping, which is well known for the name raintown). Then when the time is right (which means the skins are ready for use) and her mood is right, she would make us her ‘different’ hong tao sui.

Chow Pao Choy (Stir-fried cabbage)
This is one of the simplest dish that Ah Ma can make it so good that it tops any other complicated dish out there. This one might not have a secret. Ah Ma just chow (stir-fry) the sliced cabbages with lots of garlics. Maybe she can chow to the right softness yet still with crunch and enough taste but not too overpowering. I do not know why, but when she cooks this, I can’t stop eating it. Somehow, the outside ones does not taste as good, and I absolutely do not like those chow with har mai (dried prawns), which I felt it takes away the simple goodness of the dish.

Baked beans with cubed potato, cubed onions and minced pork
This one must be my Ah Ma’s creation. She came up with it one day and we all got hooked onto it, thus it became a household favourite. She would cube the potatoes and onions into tiny 1cm cubes, all of the same size (again, I do not know where she gets her skills and patients to do this). Then she would stir fry the pork with garlic then add in the cubes and in the end, pour in baked beans (from the can, yes semi-can food but I swear it is superb). It results in a dish only found in my Ah Ma’s house, which is absolutely delish!

Fu Kua Tan (Bittergourd Eggs)
Ah Ma cooks her fu kua tan, by first soak the bittergourd in water, then squeeze out water and then repeat process with new water for a few times to remove bitterness. After bout 3 times, she would then slice it thinly (and I mean really thin) and of about the same size (need I say more?). Then she would fry it briefly, and then add in beaten eggs to hold all of it together. The result is a really thin fu kua tan that are soft and eggy plus bitter and crunchy at the same time. This dish actually came later in my Ah Ma’s culinary years. Someone introduced it to her and from then on she made it all the time. At first, as a kid, I absolutely hate it. I do not like the bitter taste of the gourd. I would usually pick out the eggs from the side and middle or wherever and leave out the gourds. Though the eggs are already ‘stained’ with some bitterness, I still eat it anyway. Then, soon I got lazier and sometimes some gourd sneaked into my picked eggs, I still eat it anyway. Then soon, by some evolution theory, I got addicted to it and start eating it the way it is, with lots of bittergourds held together by the eggs. This is how I learnt to eat my bittergourds, which now I absolutely love, no matter how it is cooked.

Honey chicken
My Ah Ma cooks lovely honey chicken in her huge orange non-stick pot-pan. With this she would cook the chicken parts into perfection, after marinating it with dark soy sauce, soy sauce, oyster sauce and so forth, and then add in the honey by taste. It would result in a honey chicken that is not too sweet, with distinct honey taste and enough soy sauce salty. I hope I’m making sense here. Besides, the chicken would be soft and juicy while soaking in a thick deglazed honey soy sauce.

So there goes my favourite list of my Ah Ma’s cooking. As for me, where have I been lately and why have I not been charging my culinary skills in my kitchen as I had promised? Well this is because I had just shifted! Oh yes, I’m in my new house now, and of course new kitchen! I am so excited to show you all but right now it is just all boxes lying around. The plus point of this kitchen is the extra extension at the back of the house which can be made into my wet kitchen! My dream came true. Besides that, I went around my neighbourhood and found that there is a whole day market nearby that caters to every need of a home cook enthusiast, that’s me! With that I have no more excuses for not cooking more often! Stay tune then for more of my culinary adventures.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Breakfast Like Old Times

How far would one go for a breakfast cravings?

Well very far indeed, for me at least. This morning, after sending J off to work, I head on home, but on the way a weird craving kick in. I pictured a serene surrounding with me there having typical old times breakfast, which is toast bread with half boil egg together with a cup of chamkau (thick)! Ah, bliss. Therefore my crazed eyes start scrutinizing at every coffee shop I passed in my mini black car.

The idea of going to a kopitiam (coffee shop) appeared in my mind. Nowadays, the name kopitiam no longer means the dirt cheap coffee shops by your nearby neighbourhood which you frequent everyday without fail, it now meant the posh restaurant that has all the, ironically new, old fashion furniture that recreates the atmosphere of the long gone era. They would usually come with the wooden chair, marble table, with the food counter near the entrance. If you are old enough to had that breakfast experience in an old authentic kopitiam or if you are young but remembered holding Ah Ma’s every morning to her cup of coffee, you would know what I mean. There would be the usual people in the kopitiam that you would greet, the same aroma that hits you every time you enter the shop and the furious sound of clicking abacus from the main counter.

Alright, enough of dreaming, now for food scouring. As a true new generation, I decided to search for these new posh kopitiams that had been mushrooming around these few years. Must be good business, and why not, with the price of a restaurant for food of a roadside stall. We young people are getting crazier, but of course not as bad as those having a fix of coffee at those chain coffee joints. You know what I mean; those are bout 8 times the price of a regular coffee. Does ice blended cost that much more?

Anyway, I remember a kopitiam at in Tesco Damansara, but when I got there, it was all pitch black. So I turn out, nearly heading home with disappointment when I thought of checking out Damansara Perdana. I did a impromptu u-turn and head there, then circling around like a hawk, cursing at the rising cost of petrol that made this endeavour so much more guilty, and then I found it. A kopitiam at The Place (a mini mall). Since it look deserted up there (I am at the bottom looking up at restaurant at first floor), I shouted at the guy sweeping the floor at the balcony.

“Hello!” He kept on sweeping in oblivion.

“Hi! Hello!” I waved frantically. Finally he turned and looked at me.


“Ah”, nods head, “Open.”

I got in the car and drove to the front, park, and got in the front entrance of the mall then walk all the way to the back to

K3K Kopitiam

First I had to have my fix of coffee. Nowadays, while preparing to start work next month (along with sending J off to work), I had tuned by body to wake up early in the morning. With that, I had started to act like an adult, I need a cup of coffee to kick start my day in the morning. Usually, if I would go for cham, a mixture of coffee and tea with milk, my favourite. In the Hong Kong char chan teng, it is usually known as yin yong, my absolute favourite, especially the HK ones as it uses fresh milk. Anyway, since I’m here, I called its cham special, which is named Khai Sim, the name is kinda weird, but oh well, there must be a story behind it. This cham does have a special taste that I can’t quite put my finger into it, but I suspect it must be different kind of milk. Overall, its thick and quite kick off my day, but I would have prefer my yin yong.
(coffee plus tea with milk) that is

Then I called for bread toast, it says two piece, but when it comes, I came in four! How? Well, later when I was at the cashier paying, I saw an old man, articulately preparing a bread toast, which he slice it in half skillfully and attentively. Really fascinating to look at. The bread, although it’s just butter (if you open the bread to inspect), it tasted real good and sweet. By cashier I had also spied what did he put on the bread, he first use a spoon to pick up some white stuff and slowly spread all over the bread. Ah, it must be lightened (to make it watery) condensed milk. Now I know the secret. Anyway, I would have prefer my bread with kaya and butter, but this ones serves me well too.

Then it was the half boil egg. It comes in 2, which at first I requested to have only 1 but the waiter says it is only this way. Oh well, let this be my only egg intake for the day then. Ha-ha. The half boiled eggs are good, just the right doneness for me, still watery enough for me to dip my bread into it, yet having lumps of egg whites and yolks. Bread soaks up all the egg goodness so well and it pairs greatly, with the best blend of sweet (the bread) and savoury (the egg). People of old times sure know how to eat eh?. My eggs are usually doused with enough pepper and soy sauce.

Overall, it did fix my cravings. Though a bit costly for breakfast, I was already calculating my indulgence in my head, and wondered why I did not go to a normal restaurant instead while staring at one across the street. I wanted the newspaper to read but the waiter said the waiter who was supposed to get it has not arrived yet. Anyway, the atmosphere is good, and the old man with the tentative bread toasting at the cashier made it all worth it. Besides, to top it off, I got a surprise 20% off for the bill. The cashier mumbled the reason, which I did not quite catch but I’m a happy customer who just blithely pay her sudden more reasonable bill and leave.

Now my day has started.

K3K Kopitiam
The Place,
Bandar Damansara Perdana,
47820 PJ
Tel: 03-77299678

Friday, June 09, 2006

Exploring My Origin: Bak Chang

I am back in my hometown for the weekdays and I had gotten myself busy with, yes you guess it, cooking! Well, I know I’m pretty late but since I only got back last two days, I pestered my Lai Ma (nanny) into making bak chang with me.

Bak chang is actually Chinese meat dumpling that is usually made during the Duan Wu festival. As all Chinese festivals, this one too has a legend behind it. This day is to honor Qu Yuan, a wise minister in China who was greatly loved by common people. Due to despair of the government and the defeat of his country, he drowned himself in a river. After that people searched for him in the river with long boats, beating drums as they went and throwing dumplings into the river to feed the fishes so that they won’t eat his body. After that, on this day, fifth day of the fifth month in the lunar calendar, it is then customary to enjoy bak chang (commonly known as zongzi) in memorial. Dumplings are made and enjoyed while dragon boat races are also held alongside, in commemoration of the initial search.

Since young, I had always enjoyed these dumplings, thought it is only quite recently that I learned of the meaning behind it. There are many types of chang (dumpling) made here in Malaysia. The usual ones that I know of is bak chang (which I made this time), which is savoury, and the kan sui chong, which is the sweet type, made plain with lye water and to dip with kaya or coconut caramel. These two are my usual favourites. Bak chang comes in two types, the dark or the white ones. Foodcrazee had talked bout the white ones here. The usual ones that I always had were the dark ones, which is the one I made this time. Bak chang usually have sam chang bak (pork belly), Chinese mushrooms, dried shrimps, either pak mei tau or lok tau (split green peas), salty duck egg yolk and of course, my personal favourite, fong lut (chesnuts).

The process was tedious, as I had expected. But I was adamant to learn and make it; else the tradition and method will be lost. After all, making this dumpling seems like a very good addition to my ‘exploring my origin’ project.

When I got back, I was only half expecting my Lai Ma to make bak chang with me, I had requested since last week, as she is the type who needs to be in the mood to do something. Nowadays, it is up to whether she feels like it or not, or she is tired or not. This time I got lucky, she asked me bout it and then took everything out to prepare. She said she made some before hand and there are leftovers ingredients. The only thing that I needed to do was to walk 5 minutes to the local tim chai (mini store) nearby and get some beans and extra bamboo leaves for wrapping.

So far there are many variations in making this bak chang, but to me my Lai Ma’s bak changbak chang was out and ready to be devour! All I can say is, my cravings had been answered.

Bak Chang

Alright, the whole process is pretty tedious and seemingly complicated, but don’t feel daunted, take up the challenge and make it. As for me, my chang is much simpler, with less ingredient but nevertheless yummy. I also left out the usual salted duck egg yolks, because the selfish me do not like it.

For the recipe, I break down to few parts for easier preparation. Most of the ingredients, especially the spices and flavourings are all in estimation as, I have said, we Chinese cooked by whim, with fingers dipping in and tasting as we go. It is always a splash of this and a dash of that and some jiggling of this and some spoonfuls of that. My Lai Ma said, cooking by taste is one of Chinese secrets to good cooking, as all ingredients we use differ, our own tastes of what is salty and sweet also differ, therefore we cooks know best to tweak to our the situation and our liking.

As for the wrapping, I wish I could be a better artist to illustrate it, but oh well if you still do not understand, you can head on to Teckie to see the video of her mum wrapping the bak chang, she had also written a comprehensive detail of the preparation. Be careful bout the wrapping as either if wrongly wrapped or too loosely tied, it will leak and come unwrap, resulting in a mess that cannot be salvage. We lost one of it (must be the one I wrapped, he-he.

1 kg glutinous rice
800g – 1 kg pork
200g of pak mei tau (not too sure but I guess it is soy bean)
200g (35-40) fong lut (chestnuts) (depending how many you want to put in your dumpling, we have two for each)
8-10 Chinese dried mushrooms (or 16-20 small ones)
Handful of har mai (dried shrimps)
Handful of minced garlic

Additional fillings (I did not add):
Salted duck egg yolk
Hou see (dried oyster)
Lap cheong (dried Chinese sausage)

20 bamboo leaves
8-10 ham choong chou (literally the dumpling weed plant. You can use any string here)

Marinate for pork (in estimation):
2-3 tbsp of five spice powder
Pinch of ajinomoto (I wouldn’t want this but my Lai Ma insists)
Pinches of salt
2-3 tbsp of white pepper
3-4 tbsp of oyster sauce
2-3 tbsp of dark sauce

For the frying the rice (in estimation):
3-4 tbsp of dark sauce
4-5 tbsp of soy sauce (or to taste)
6-8 tbsp of five spice powder
3-4 tbsp of pepper
5-6 tbsp of oyster sauce
Pinches of ajinomoto
Pinches of salt

For frying the fillings (in estimation):
2-3 tbsp of five spice powder
2-3 tbsp of oyster sauce
2 tbsp of pepper
3-4 tbsp of soy sauce

Day before (or in the morning):
Soak rice with water for at least 6 hrs and up to one day.
Cube the pork and marinate for 8 hrs or overnight

Few hours before cooking and wrapping:
Soak bamboo leaves in water till soft. Then gently wash with running water, wiping with cloth. Stack it up face down in a basin, and then submerge in water until use.
Boil the chestnuts and beans till half cooked.
Soak the dried mushrooms in hot water till soften, then remove stem and halved it (for big ones)
Clean the har mai a few times, running through with water
Drain the soaked glutinous rice.

Cooking the rice:
Heat up 3-4 tbsp of oil in a wok.
Throw in garlic and fried for a minute.
Then add in the glutinous rice and stir fried.
Slowly add in all the frying ingredients, tasting as you go.
Lastly, add in the soy bean, then fry and mix evenly.
Add spices if needed.

Cooking the fillings:
Heat 3 tbsp of oil in wok.
Then add in garlic and stir fry for a minute.
Add in har mai, fong lut and mushrooms.
Fried for few minutes and mix well.
As usual, add in all the fillings spices one by one and fry till evenly mix.
Add in the marinated pork and continue stir fry.
Add in water (bout quarter bowl).
Fry till dry.

For wrapping:
Gather 5 strings together and fold it half, then tie a not to form a bundle
Then prepare a place to wrap, something like this:

Place together ingredients and leaves below it, along with spoon.

Take two leaves and overlap on each other in opposite sides, slightly slanted.
Twist in the middle and turn to shape a cone.
First line the bottom and sides with the rice and bean mix.
Then add in the fillings in the middle: ½ pork, 2 fong lut, 3 har mai and 1 mushroom
Then top loosely with rice.
Turn it upward to close up. Pull it down slightly.
Then turn in and fold the sides.
Fold the top leaves together, then turn down the side.
Now its in a triangle shape.
Tie it with ham choong chou, around the dumpling two times then knot it firmly.

Final cooking:
Put in all the tied dumplings into a huge pot of boiling water, submerged totally in the water.
Boil it for 4-5 hrs, topping up with boiling water every hour or so.
Then take out and hang it to dry.
Peel open leaves and devour!

Make 16-20 big dumplings
(It can keep for few days or few weeks in the refrigerator)

Wednesday, June 07, 2006


I am MAD. Well, disappointed mainly. I had attempted my hands at making madeleines but it failed. These madeleines tasted like, well, just mini butter cakes. Besides, it was kind of too eggy to my liking, I suspected the eggs I used were not fresh enough. And of course, the mould that I use was not the madeleines mould, I just used the mini tart mould that I happen to chance upon while out with my dad and bought it along with a hand sifter (my dad pays, I’m unemployed and broke, he-he). The results are not up to my expectation, as this recipe was a hit out there with the KC forum members, so I am hoping it would be some great pop-in-the-mouth madeleines. Oh well, the problem surely lies with me, I just have to find out where (besides the not-so-fresh-eggs and the not-the-right-mould). Maybe I should try some other fail-proof Madeleine recipes out there. Any suggestions?

Friday, June 02, 2006

Self-employed in the Kitchen

J had started work today, leaving me this unemployed (starting work in July) girl alone. So I decided to be self-employed in the kitchen instead. Before this, besides hunting for job, we had been enjoying life; hence you see my lack of cooking/baking and more of scouring for food. Now it is time for me to fire back up my culinary skills.

My internet was down because we did not pay the phone bill. Yea, shame on me, but it just somehow slipped my mind. So I had no chance to surf around for recipes. That’s a habit of mine; looking through foodblogs in search of some inspiring recipes despite all these while I had been piling up on it.

So today with no internet, I finally look through my to-do list. It amazes me how much recipes I had saved up, with the sincere heart and hunger to make them. I was attracted by many recipes (well it is love at second sight since I had first saved them here), but the thing is, I do not have lots of essential ingredients in my pantry right now. For instance, milk or yoghurt or buttermilk or brown sugar is out. That practically cancels out most of the dessert recipes. I’m feeling sugar high right now, so I am just looking through this section. I chance upon this recip, from the baker which I had saved in my to-do list for as long as I couldn’t remember. LOL.

Well, this recipe took my attention the second time because it is flourless and butter-less! Now this is what I call a dessert for the weight watchers. Oh yes, and it’s a cookie recipe, which the baker decides would fare much better as cupcakes. So I decided to make these mini cupcakes. boy, was it good! It was like the heaven for chocolate lovers. It is crunchy at the top and thick and gooey in the middle. The nuts lend a good crunch to the entire cake texture. Now you chocolate lovers out there, who need a fix but want to watch the waistline, go make a batch yourselves. Due to the resulting look of the cakes, I decide to name it

Mini Molten Chocolate Lava Cakes

The recipe is fairly easy. Reading the instructions I was worried at first how it would come together with just two egg whites as the liquid ingredient, but surprisingly it binds well, not too sticky to handle and the ‘dough’ taste yummy! (Yes I am a bad habit cook that loves to taste things that she cooks). Some additional steps that I added was, first toasting the walnuts for better taste and then sifting the sugar and cocoa for lighter and more uniform batter. Before baking it in my muffin pan, I cut out the baking paper to roughly line the holes because with all the sugar in the dough, it is bound to stick like madness, and I am thankful I did this step, as it helps tremendously in taking out the mini cakes with the shape still intact. I think if you have cupcake cases, it is a good time to use them here. Besides, I had split the recipe in half, because I have so little to feed and I am worried I might finish off the whole batch! Oh and I feel that the sugar amount can be further reduce by ¼ and it would be perfect, more chocolatey and less sweet, the way I would really like it.

6 tbps unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
pinch of salt

1/2 tbps vanilla
2 large egg whites

1 cups walnuts (toasted at 200 for 5 minutes then coarsely chopped)

Preheat oven to 350F/180C
Sift together cocoa powder, confectioners sugar, and salt in a bowl
Combine the liquids, vanilla and egg whites in a bowl
Slowly add the liquids into the dry mixture, beating at low speed with an electric mixer
Then beat the batter at medium speed till glossy
Stir in the walnuts
Line the muffin pan with baking papers/cups
Spoon about two heaped tablespoon of batter into the cup
Bake in oven for 20 minutes, till it looks like molten lava

Makes 6 mini cakes

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