Goodness me, this container is full of worms!

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What is this series – Series 23?

Is this too easy? It is actually. If you follow my blog, you will sure to find it. Again, I just like the pattern. It is not a competition and this is just design!


Answer posted : 15 July 2013

 

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It is Nasi Aruk fried rice. Just some close look up of the fried rice. You can know more about Nasi Aruk fried rice or Kampong fried rice or village fried rice here.

Are you kidding? You don’t need oil to fry rice?– The authentic Sarawak Cuisine–Aruk Fried Rice

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“Nasik Aruk (originated from Sarawak). Nasik Aruk is a traditional Sarawakian Malay fried rice. Unlike Nasi Goreng, Nasi Aruk does not use any oil to fry the rice. The ingredients are garlic, onion and anchovies, fried to perfection with very little oil and then the cook will put the rice in. The rice must be fried for longer time (compared to frying rice for Nasi Goreng) for the smokey/slightly-burnt taste to absorb into the rice. It is a common to see Nasik Aruk in the food menu list at Malay and Mamak coffee shops and stalls.” (Source: http://wikitravel.org/en/Sarawak)


BACKGROUND INFORMATION

While I was discussing about the Sarawak Authentic Gift and Cuisines yesterday at the Kuching Food Critics Groups, I have found this interesting cuisine which was recommended by Wikitravel.org on Sarawak cuisine.

This dish has caught my attention because no oil was used in the preparation. I remembered ever eaten this type of fried rice before but only yesterday, I know it is by the name of Nasi Aruk. I have try to search for the meaning of Aruk but to my disappointment, I can’t find any thing to explain the origin. It could have been originated from Indonesia.

This simple fried rice is sort of commoner’s fried rice as none of the ingredients are expensive and costly. It is a special way of frying rice by the Malay families usually using left over rice from previous day.

While it is considered as a commoner fried rice, it unique way of cooking have rendered it to be one of the authentic Sarawak cuisines and  served at high class hotel and restaurants.

A quick review of the ingredients and method of cooking will surely tell you that it is a healthy alternatives. It has minimum condiments, no oil, high minerals and vitamins and therefore top choice for a healthy diet.

 

WHY THIS DISH

My kids are back to their hometown and only left with my wife and myself in the house. As I just want something simple but spicy, I  have decided to prepare some Aruk fried rice for both of us.

 



WHAT IS REQUIRED

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The ingredients of the fried rice is very basic. Note that no quantity will be given here as it is really at your discretion and the only two ingredients which I think cannot be substituted in order to qualify it to be Aruk Fried Rice are the anchovies and of course the rice. The ingredients are:

  • Some left over white rice (today I have cooked the rice specially for this which is not necessary at all. Left over white rice is easier to fry especially if you keep it in the fridge).
  • Eggs (optional) – I think previously eggs were not added but now with the affluence of the society, eggs seems to be more and more “misused” in our cuisines;
  • Red chili cut into small pieces – When my kid were not in, it is our party time and I have added lots of small red chili (in Malay called chili padi) which is extremely spicy. However, it can be substituted with some big red chili or no chili at all;
  • Sugar or other seasonings or condiments to taste
  • Some big onions and shallots – diced into small cubes.
  • Some anchovies and dried baby shrimps – Traditionally, only anchovies (ikan billis) were used but since I have a lot of these baby shrimps, I have decided to throw some in.
  • Some belachan (shrimp paste) – I have some belachan powder with me so use the powder instead of belachan chunks.

STEPS OF PREPARATION

 

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  • In a big non stick frying pan, put the chopped red cut chili, onions and shallots. Fried for a while until the aroma starts to emit;
  • Washed the anchovies and baby shrimps quickly with water and put them in the pan and continue frying until they are crispy.
  • Make a whole in the center, crack your eggs and let the eggs dried up. Break the eggs using the frying utensils into small chunks.
  • Add in the white rice and continue frying until well mixed.

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  • Add in belachan powder and  condiments like light soya sauce or sugar or dark soya sauce or salt to taste. Stir until well mixed.
  • Let it sit in the pan for a while to let the moisture dries up and get slightly burnt (if you want some Smokey or burnt flavor but you have to closely monitor this). Scope up the rice to serve when hot.
  • In the third picture, I have purposely left some rice in the frying pan to show readers that the pan is very clean and nothing stick to it.

 

Frying the eggs without oil

Since I did use any oil for the frying the rice, I have decided not to use any oil to fry the egg either.

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  • Heat up the frying pan and crack an egg. Add in some water to the side and cover your frying pan for 1-2 minutes or until the water dries up.
  • Scope up the egg and serve.
  • If you are using medium heat to heat the pan, you can continue heating it after you add the water until all the water evaporated. If you are using high heat, you have to act faster and off the heat immediately to avoid your egg being burnt.
  • The water added should not be too much, just a bit and add it as far from the egg as possible. It is ok if the water touch the egg.
  • In the first picture, you can see that right side of egg have more bubbles and right side of eggs have less. This is because I have added the water too early and the water mixed with the egg whites which have yet to solidify. On the right sides,  I have added  the water only when the egg white start to harden. So you should have to ensure that the whites are harden before you add the water and it should be added gently.
  • The steam will cooked the upper most layer of the yolk and therefore the egg yolk would flow out.

THE OUTPUT

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  • This is the fried rice with the fried egg (egg is optional).
  • The taste is slight burnt, spicy and full of onion and anchovies fragrance. It was fabulous.
  • Look at top part of the rice. It is some sort of dried squid delicacies that was left over from the Chinese New Year. I have “re-bake it” make it crispy and add it to the rice.
  • At time, this fried rice is serve with sliced cucumbers or other garnishing ingredients like Chinese celery or spring onion.
  • As no oil is involved and using the dry frying method, the fried rice will be slightly dry and you have to eat it slowly and best with some drinks.


CONCLUSIONS

This village style of traditional fried rice bring back a lot of memories for those grew up with. With the increase of household disposal income, less and less people are willing to prepare this as its ingredients are too basic. However, it is definitely a choice of healthy food because of the following reasons:

  • No fats were used in the frying the rice (and in my case frying of eggs also);
  • Anchovies are full of vitamins and minerals specifically calcium and iron which is good for bones development;
  • Chili, onions and shallots are herbs that are beneficial to our body;
  • The fact that it is dry and cannot be eaten faster is not necessary a disadvantage and it can be construed as an advantage. Your body needs time to receive the signal for food that downed to your throat. “Dry” means you need to chew slowly and you will eat less as compared when it is watery and moist. As a result, you will feel full faster and that will aid in one’s weights management program.
  • Basic ingredients means that the fried rice is good for those who is cost conscious and time of preparation are very short.

Not all meals need to be elaborated. At times, simple meal is desired and is it not SIMPLE IS ELEGANT?

Thanks for reading the post!

Some Aloe Vera Sweet Fruit Dessert Just Specially For You, Dear! (水果芦荟甜品)

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”Aloe Vera is a stem less or very short-stemmed succulent plant growing to 60–100 cm (24–39 in) tall, spreading by offsets. The leaves are thick and fleshy, green to grey-green, with some varieties showing white flecks on the upper and lower stem surfaces.[6]The margin of the leaf is serrated and has small white teeth. The flowers are produced in summer on a spike up to 90 cm (35 in) tall, each flower being pendulous, with a yellow tubular corolla 2–3 cm (0.8–1.2 in) long.“(Source:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aloe_vera

Aloe Vera is a rather common ornamental house plant in Singapore and Malaysia. It can be an invasive species if not manage properly. Given enough soil nutrients, Aloe Vera can be quite sizeable. Common household usage are usually using its gel to protect the cuts and uncut wound (burns) where it is believed to promote soothing and healing of wounds. In addition, it is sometimes used as a home made skin care product.


Not all species of Aloe Vera are edible, research shows that only 5-6 cultivars are edible and one of the most common type is an Aloe Vera cultivar with white spotted stem or Aloe Vera Chinensis. Though there are no confirmed scientific evidence that ingestion of Aloe Vera will bring direct health benefits, but traditional folk medicines have view the plant as herbs. Chinese traditional medicines have used Aloe Vera as laxatives to treat minor constipation problems and believed that it is good for digestive system and improve the appetite. HOWEVER, IT SHOULD BE CAUTIONED THAT ALOE VERA HAVE LOW TOXICITY AND SHOULD BE CONSUMED IN MODERATION. Though there are recipes that called for fresh aloe vera direct ingestion, it is advisable to DE-SKIN THE ALOE VERA AND ONLY CONSUMED IN COOKED.

For my readers who are Chinese speaking, I have specifically include this excerpt. Note that the Chinese and English versions are not the same as they are from the different source.

芦荟

芦荟为一种多年生常绿草本植物(Aloe Vera var. chinensis)。叶大而肥厚、基出、簇生、狭长披针形,花黄色或有赤色斑点,多产于热带地方。又名“油葱”。叶边缘有尖锐的锯齿,花像穗子,叶汁可入药”。芦荟中的芦荟大黄素甙 (aloin)、芦荟大黄素(emodin)等有效成分起着增进食欲、大肠缓泄作用。服用适量芦荟,能强化胃功能,增强体质,因实证致虚而失去食欲的病危患者,服用芦荟也能恢复食欲。健康的人,长期服用芦荟和坚持芦荟浴,可以防治一定疾病,但还是要根据各人情况对症保健。健康人体液呈弱碱性,过度劳累或生活紧张等原因会使体液变成酸性,易感染病毒,常用库拉索芦荟会使体液保持碱性,维持健康、不患感冒。“(Source:http://www.baike.com)


WHY THIS DISH

Aloe Vera Chinensis is now easily available in Singapore supermarkets under the fresh vegetables section and the price per leaf is about SGD2-2.50 each. These Aloe Vera are mostly imported from Thailand where they are grown commercially. My son and daughter loves the Aloe Vera cubes that commonly available in commercial drinks and yoghurt. It is a big deal for them if some drinks have aloe vera in it as an ingredient. Knowing that this is something rather easy to prepare and I have a few guests at home now, I have decided to buy a piece of Aloe Vera leaf and prepare some sweet desserts for them.

Note that this is the recipe that I have tried and tested based on my own creativity and those who tested it will it a thumb up. I honestly believe that this dessert will be able to fulfill of the palates of both Asian and non-Asian foodies. It is healthy, light and especially good to serve after a greasy meals.


WHAT IS REQUIRED

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In today’s post, I do not think that it is necessary to detail the exact quantity of each ingredient as it is a matter of personal preference. I have started off with a piece of Aloe Vera leaf, two pears, some grapes, some oranges. As for side ingredients, you will need a bundle of pandanus  leaves, some Chinese goof berry, red dates and some rock or granulated sugars. If you like fruits, just increase the quantity. Other fruits that can be considered are apples, papaya (not that advisable though since both aloe vera and papaya have laxative effects), kiwi fruits etc.

Note that all ingredients mentioned here are substitutable and optional except Aloe Vera and rock sugar. Rock sugar can be substituted with white granulated sugar or honey. Of course, Aloe Vera should be changed, otherwise, this post will not exist.


PREPARATION STEPS

De-skin and dicing the Aloe Vera

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  • Use a kitchen peeler to peel of the skin and if you like, you may keep the skin and used it as a facial mask to moisturize your skin. You should only de-skin one side. The other side should not be de-skinned so that the skin can acts as a form to hold the aloe vera cubes as explained below.
  • Take a knife and cut the flesh into cubes but make sure that the cubes still  attached to the skin.
  • Use the knife to cut horizontally or parallel with the skin. The aloe vera cubes should detached from the skin now.

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  • Transfer all the cubes to the a bowl of water and sieve it. The gel will start to flow out of the hole and your aloe vera cube is ready.
  • In my demonstration here, as I personally do not like the gel as it is quite stinky (to me) and I have used a sieve to sieve off the gel. However, you can also cook the aloe vera cubes with the gel. If you like the gel, you can by pass this step totally.

Dicing other ingredients

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  • Clean and get ready a bundle of pandanus leaves.
  • Peel off the skins of the fruits and cut it into cubes. As mentioned above, alternative fruits are apples, kiwi, dragon fruits etc.

Cooking the desserts

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  • Have some water in a medium sized pot, put in the Pandanus leaves, Chinese goof berry, Chinese red dates and bring to boil under high heat for about 10  minutes.
  • Throw in the fruits and boil under medium heat for 15 minutes. Note that the different timing of putting the ingredients. This  is because their cooking time is different and some can be cooked very fast while others can stand long hours of heating (like oranges, red dates, goof berries).
  • Pour in the cut aloe vera, add rock sugar, bring to boil and the dessert is ready.
  • Serve hot or cold as desired.

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CONCLUSION

This dessert is a healthy dessert because:

  • It is fruit based that are loaded with vitamins and minerals;
  • It is a cooked dessert and most of the ingredients possess the cooling effects according to the Traditional Chinese Medicine;
  • Red dates are a good iron source especially beneficial to ladies whereas Chinese goof berry is reputable to improve the eye sight.
  • Aloe Vera is good for your digestive system, assist in constipation and also a great aid to improve your skin texture.

The dessert is light, sweet, crunchy, fruity and especially suitable for the working ladies. It is also a good choice after a greasy meals.  It is not a difficult dessert to make. Ingredients can be adjusted accordingly if you don’t have time to dice it. Try and make a bowl of this desserts to your love one and see what is his comments. However, as like all other food, the dessert should be taken with moderation as too much aloe vera (especially with gel) can cause stomach upset.

 

Happy reading.

Do You Love Me! 你爱我吗?

 

I love plants. When I drove or when I strolled in the park or even around the neighborhood, I will always be amazed by the various shapes and styles that plants have chosen to present themselves  for purposes of reproduction. I am sharing with readers some of the photos that I have taken around my neighborhood and around the net and hope that you can draw your own inspirations from the photos below

Today’s pictures are compiled from my trip to Singapore’s Garden By the Bay. If you visit Singapore, please ensure that this is one of your destination.

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Hai, Malaysian, South Koreans and Haitians, my family, hibiscus is your countries’ national flower emblem. Do you know all our families’ relatives. Look, these are my cousins currently lucky enough to live in Garden by the Bay. They are well fed and therefore they are able to afford beautiful cloths and see, they are so fat! It really make me jealous..

马来西亚人看到大红花或木槿花已经麻木不仁了,向小朋友手掌一样大的木槿花,你是否会从新珍惜及爱我呢?

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The above are hibiscuses that have ever mentioned in my posts. In the left picture, A is South Korea’s national flower – Hibiscus Syriacus (Mugunghwa); B for Rosella drink – Hibiscus Sabadriffa (Roselle or Rosella); C is Malaysia’s national flower – Hibiscus Sinensis.


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Hi, beautiful ladies, I know you like to put your nose near me to appreciate our fragrance, thank you very much! I am sorry my ancestors wants me to have stigma hanging down causing you inconveniences to appreciate me. Will you still love me when I have such an awkward posture?

我家族就是要我们把柱头向下垂。你还爱我吗?


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We are just tiny flowers squatting near corners of the walls. Sir, madam, can you please “donate” some love to me.

我知道人类都喜欢大又美的富贵花朵。像我这样的墙角野花,谁会喜欢?先生,太太,你们可以爱我吗?


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Hey, above, all of you are so self centered, that’s why nobody will ever love you. Look at us, we worked as a group, we go out together, we wear the same clothes and therefore we are definitely more presentable than you lonely little flowers! Sir, Madam, I know you will agree with what I said and shower me with your loves!

楼上的,团结才是力量!我和我的兄弟姐妹共同进出,穿同样的衣服,互相合作,我们肯定比你们更加出色。先生太太有把握你们一定会喜欢我们并给予最多的爱!


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We succulents, are hard to bear flowers. We believed we are beautiful enough. We don’t need flowers to reproduce and I refused to disclose our family secrets of reproduction. You human being, only like flowers. Look at us, our juicy leaves are even more beautiful than their flowers. Sir, come here and have a closer look at us, sure you will love us!

花花花,每天心里就只有花!!我们的叶子就比其他的花来的漂亮! 先生,请你靠近我一点,仔细地看,轻轻地摸,我相信你一定会爱上我们!来啊!

 


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Hey, don’t touch us! We are nice to see but definitely not nice to touch! Sir, sorry, we have selected these thorny clothes to protect our own self. Sir, do you agree that we are still beautiful with these thorns? You will not change your loves to us right? Will you?

先生,现在色狼很多,我妈叫我要懂得照顾自己,所以我们就选择了有刺的衣服。其实也是挺漂亮的,你同意吗?你爱我吗?


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Go and asked my mum why she want to born me with these funny shapes! It wouldn’t affect your love to me, right? Will it?

不要再问我了,去问我妈为什么她要把我生成这样的外表!这会影响你对我的爱吗?

Happy reading.

What I cooked today (家常便饭系列)- 6-6-2013

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On 6 June 2013,

White rice served with :

1. Minced meat fried with mushrooms and candied winter melon 香菇冬瓜条炒碎肉
2. Blanched Kailan with pork floss  芥兰拌肉松
3. Blanched mixed vegetables and prawns 杂菜虾球
4. ABC Soup ABC 鸡汤

The minced meat fried with mushrooms and candied winter melons is actually the leftover fillings from wrapping my rice dumplings. I have add a bit of water and treated as a dish. It is actually very tasty and kids love it (of course, rice dumpling without glutinous rice).

Another is a common Malaysian household soup called ABC soup. It is a soup that usually include red carrots, onions, potatoes and tomatoes. Sometime, baby corns were added. When I search the soup in the Internet, there are no confirm literature on the origins and meanings of ABC soup. There are belief that it represent Vitamin A (for carrots), Vitamin B6 (for potatoes), Vitamin C (for tomatoes) that is how the name arises.

I personally have another way of interpretation. As ABC soup is a common Malaysian Chinese Soup and also called luo Song Tang (Borscht of
Eastern European Countries), the soup is clearly  influenced by European Countries cookings. As carrots, tomatoes, potatoes, onions, baby corns are traditionally not common cooking ingredients in Chinese cuisines, ABC can mean to refer Ang mo (Caucasian) ways of cooking. In addition, the cooking method of putting all vegetables in a soup is another clear indication that it is Ang mo cooking. Therefore, in my humble opinion, ABC soup  should refers to soups commonly cooked by the Caucasian during the Colonial Times . Instead of using the term Ang Mo, ABC alphabet were used.

Macao and the Nobly, Elegant Lotus

National/State Flower Series – East Asia 7 – Macau Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China – Nelumbo Nucifera

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“Nelumbo nucifera, known by a number of names including Indian lotus, sacred lotus, bean of India, or simply lotus, is one of two species of aquatic plant in the family Nelumbonaceae. ……… This plant is an aquatic perennial. Under favorable circumstances its seeds may remain viable for many years, with the oldest recorded lotus germination being from that of seeds 1,300 years old recovered from a dry lakebed in North Eastern China. (Source:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nelumbo_nucifera)”

Nelumbo Nucifera is  the “state flower” for Macao Special Administrative Regions of People’s Republic of China. Beside Macao, India and Vietnam are also using this flower as national flower. But that should not be confused with Bangladesh’s national flower, water lily (睡莲)which belong to the family of Nymphaea.

Species Information

Scientific name:

Nelumbo nucifera Gaertn

Family: Nelumbonaceae
Common name(s): Lotus
Chinese name: 古莲,莲花,荷花, 芙蓉

Lotus is a perennial aquatic plants with a long history and apparently is a leader in the midsummer seasonal flowers. In the heat of summer waves, pools were full of green lotus leaves that waved slowly and its flowers were emitting a fragrance resembling fragrance from the bathing beauties. Hence, In Chinese,  lotus were also called “gentlemen flowers 花中君子” or “flowers of beautiful ladies 花中美人”

  Pic courtesy of www.micefinder.com

Macau and lotus

  • A dike north of Macau which connects to Zhua Hai and Lianfeng San was said to look like a lotus stem. Therefore, in ancient times, Macau was described as a lotus that floats in the open sea and at times being called a lotus island. Due to its unique shapes, Macao people believed that Macau was the reincarnation of a lotus flower and called Macau as the land of the treasure lotus (“莲花宝地“)。
  • Macao people loves lotus as they believed that lotus symbolizes good fortune, peace and holiness. Macau’s literature, myths, proverbs, dramas and couplets etc. often uses lotus as an avenue to express their feelings. Macao peoples daily lives, thoughts and feelings are closely associated with lotus and a bond have been established. People generally planted lotus as a hobby. There are many cultures that have elements of lotus such as lotus wordings in their door couplets.
  • Macau’s also has a lot of streets, villages and buildings that have the name associated with lotus, such as Lotus Hill(莲花山), Lin Fong Temple (莲峰庙), Lotus Stream Temple (莲溪庙), Lotus Bridge (莲花大桥), and so on.

Macao Lotus Bridge stamp(Pic Courtesy: http://gulfmannmaxicard.blogspot.sg

  • Lotus Bridge  is Macao’s third bridge with a  length of 1.3 km connecting the islands of Taipa Macau and Zhuhai Hengqin Bridge. The bridge greatly facilitated people entering to Macau International Airport and Ka Ho Container Port and Oil Terminal from mainland China. This had brought  prosperity and developments to Macao  as a whole.
  • Lotus is also the official flower emblem of Macao and appeared in Macao’s flags. It is also a common item in Macao’s stamps and currency.

                   

File:Macau SAR Regional Emblem.svg

  • The Lotus Square or Golden Lotus Square (Chinese: 金蓮花廣場; Portuguese: A Praça Flor de Lodão) is an open area of Macau Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China. The area features the large bronze sculpture Lotus Flower In Full Bloom (Chinese: 盛世蓮花) and is somewhat akin to the Golden Bauhinia of neighboring Hong Kong.  (PLEASE REFER HONG KONG’S STATE FLOWER HERE). The lotus flower in full bloom symbolizes the everlasting prosperity of Macau. The sculpture was presented by the State Council of the People’s Republic of China in 1999 to mark the Macau sovereignty transfer from Portugal to the PRC. (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lotus_Square)

Finally, I have finished my national flowers for East Asia and a summary will be compiled for your reference soon. Hope you enjoy the post.

 

Thank for reading.

 

What I cooked today (家常便饭系列)- 5-6-2013

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On 5 June 2013

White rice served with:

5-Jun Ladies Finger fried with Small Shrimps 小虾羊角豆
5-Jun Mapo Tofu 麻婆豆腐
5-Jun Bok Choy Pork Rib Soup 大白菜排骨汤
5-Jun Chinese spinach cooked with goof berry 枸杞子炒苋菜

Yesterday, we dine out with guest.

The dish start to repeat this month and again, I think that should be the case as a month a cycle should be rather reasonable. I was rather surprised that my son starts to like ladies finger this time I cooked. He had gradually eating more and more vegetables nowadays. Unlike last year, his eyes were “full of meat” only. He ate very little vegetables. This year, I have limited my cooking to only one meat dish per meal and try to cook 2-3 vegetables+tofu dishes. 

His change were gradual and not really noticeable. Nowadays, even when I did not cook meat dish, he would not complain anymore. By the way, he body mass index exceeded the standard figures and schools have wanted him to join the “weight reduction” program. While I know this is heredity of my family where all of us were rather heavy weight from 7 years old  until they reach adolescence thereafter, the weight will start to reduce. However, in view of school’s concern, I will do my part by restricting his intake of food – both in terms of quantity and quality. Am I cruel?

Is there any relationship between Dragon in a boat and a Peranakan Women?….The process of making Nonya Chang revisited…(Part II)

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Dragon Boat activities are basically carried out during the Chinese Rice Dumpling Festivals (Duan Wu Jie (端午节)in Mandarin)and during these festival, rice dumpling were prepared for offering to the famous ancient Chinese Poet, Qu Yuan (屈原). Though the origin of rice dumpling is from China, however, overseas Chinese have incorporated each countries local elements into their version of rice dumpling. A peranakan lady is also called a nonya and their cooking blends both Chinese traditional and localized Malay elements. This post will detailed the process of preparing the Nonya version Chinese Rice Dumpling (hereinafter refer to as “Chang” or “Nonya Chang”).


This is Part II of the Nonya Chang series and will provide a simplified method of preparing the Chang. Part I of the series talk about the history of Chang and Nonya Chang, the reasons why less and less Chang prepared at home and the reasons why Chang command such a high premium. You can read it HERE.

The process of preparing the Chang will involve the following processes:

1. Cleaning of leaves;

2. Preparation of rice;

3. Preparation of fillings;

4. Wrapping of Chang;

5. Steaming of the Chang

The recipe below is a rather simple recipe that both my wife and myself likes. I have been using this recipe for more than 5 years. Both my wife and myself do not like other ingredients in the commercial Chang  like chestnuts, dried shrimps etc.. and in our first attempt, we agreed that we shall only have 3 main ingredients, pork, mushrooms and candied winter melons and we have been using the same ingredients since then. Therefore, this is a very good starting basic recipe for Nonya Chang.


WHAT IS REQUIRED

The table below summarizes the ingredients required for making about 30 Chang from 1.2 kg of rice or about 40g of uncooked rice per Chang.

Column one shows the ingredients or material required. Second column shows the measurement in box. I have purposely used the box as a measurement  unit as it is easier for me to measure and can keep my material systematically. I have also included the weight equivalent that I measured during the process for your reference. But my recommendation is to USE THE BOX MEASUREMENT AS IT IS QUITE ACCURATE.

Another way of measuring based on the variable measurement, weight measurements and my experiences are in the following ratios:

RICE (2) : MEAT (2) : MUSHROOM (1) : CANDIED MELON (1)  

 

Ingredients

Variable measurement

Weight measurement

Diced pork belly (五花肉丁) (a) 1 box* 600g
Minced pork belly (五花肉碎) (a) 1 box 400g
Mushrooms (香菇) (b) 1 box 415g
Candied Winter Melon (冬瓜条) (c) 1 box 480g
Glutinous Rice (糯米) (d) 2 box (about 8 cups of rice) 1200g
Coriander powder (芫茜) (e)  2 bags of 25g each 50g
White pepper(白胡椒) (f) 2 bags of 15g each 30g
Five spice powder (五香粉)(f) 2 bags of 5g each 1og
Chopped garlic & shallot (蒜泥及小葱头碎) (g) 0.5 box (divide into 2 equal portions) 300g
White sugar, dark soya sauce, light soya sauce, salt (白糖,酱清,酱油,盐) (h) to taste
Cooking oil (食用油)(i) 0.5-1 cups
Bamboo Leaves (竹叶) (j) 100 leaves
Reed strings or cotton strings (草绳) (k) 5o strings
Pandanus leaves(香兰叶) (l) 20 leaves
Butterfly pea flower (蝴蝶豆) (m) 10 flowers

NOTES:

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(a) Pork Belly Meat

Traditionally, the pork were being boiled in the water and after cooked, it was manually diced into about o.5 cm cube. However, in order to save time, I have used a mixture of minced pork and diced pork that were sold in the market.

(b) Mushrooms

Instead of dicing the mushrooms into cubes, I have buy the cut mushrooms, soaked it and use a blender to process the mushrooms into small bitable chunks. I know older generations are very particular about the dicing of mushrooms into cubes but for me it is acceptable because all the ingredients will be cut into very small pieces.

(c) Winter melons

This will also be diced into small cubes of 0,5 cm. Usually, the size of meat, mushrooms and winter melons are of the same size. These I have manual diced it instead of using food processor because if winter melons are too small, when cooked, you will not be able to “find “ it when you bite the fillings.

(d) Glutinous rice

Meat to uncooked glutinous rice ratio should be 1:1. This may sound a bit unbelievable because rice will expand when cooked whereas meat will shrink in volume when cooked. The shrunk volume will be made good by volume of mushrooms and winter melons.

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(e)  Coriander powder (divided into 2 packets)

Coriander powder IS A MUST in Nonya Chang. It is this ingredients that make Nonya Chang its unique flavor.

(f) Five spice powder and white pepper powder (divided into 2 packets)

These two items are rather optional. It is traditional that we put the white pepper powders but for five spice powders, just a bit (to your taste) will do. Five spice powders is the usually used in the other Bak Chang, it should not be too much until it over “shadows” the aroma of coriander powder.

(g) Chopped Garlic and Onion (divided into 2 portions)

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This again is optional but for my recipe, we used lots of chopped garlics and onions. It is my personal opinion that both the rice and fillings should have the fragrance of garlics and shallots. Just chopped it using a food processor.

 

(h)  White Sugar, Dark Soya Sauce, light Soya Sauce, Salt (h)

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Most recipes in the net will give you minimal seasonings and all these seasonings are OPTIONAL and should be adjusted accordingly to suit your families palates. One thing that I have to highlight is that seasonings are important to ensure your rice and fillings are tasty. In additions, if you are boiling the Chang instead of steaming the Chang, even more seasonings are needed as the water will dilute your rice and fillings. You will not want to prepare something that is tasteless and only you know exactly the taste for your family.

(i) Cooking Oil (divide into 2 portions)

These oils will be needed to fry the rice and the fillings. You can adjust the oil quantity accordingly. Depending on the type of meat you are using, if it is pork belly, after you fried for a while, fats will be converted to oil and you only need oil just enough to fried the garlics and shallots. Any excess oil can be drained off before you wrap the Chang.

 

(j) Bamboo leaves

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You can either use  the fresh bamboo leaves or the dried bamboo leaves. However, it is difficult to get big size bamboo leaves nowadays. You will need to prepare at least 2 times the number of Chang to be wrapped plus another 10% for spoilages. E.g, using my recipe above, since I am making 40 Chang, I will need 40 x 2 = 80 leaves plus another 20 leaves set aside for reserve use.

You have to clean and soak the dry leaves in water for at least about 1 hours or until you feel the leaves are soft and easy to be twisted in any shape. If you want it to be faster, you can used hot water. Alternatively, just soak it overnight.

Traditionally, Nonya Chang uses the big Pandanus leaves for the wrapping and it is one of the things that differentiate it with other Chang. Even in Kuching, Sarawak, people still uses these Pandanus leaves. However, in Singapore, it is very hard to get hold of these leaves and one leaf will cost you about SGD1 which can be cut into 3 pieces for the wrapping.

IMG_4374pic courtesy of www.sgkopi.com

It is hard to find the images for big Pandanus leaves. I have managed to get hold of some pictures from www.sgkopi.com to share with readers. If we are using Pandanus leaves to wrap the Chang, more works are required. Firstly, you have to cut the leaves into the sizes that you like. It will be followed by dethroning the leaves and you have to peel off certain veins such that the leaves are softer. It will then be washed and “blanched” in the hot water to soften the leaves.

So, in order to save time, the big bamboo leaves imported from China is still preferred.

(k) Strings

Since I managed to get hold of the reed strings or straw strings, I preferred to use them. The reasons no other than preserving the traditions. If you can’t, just use cotton strings (as used in the cross stitch or knitting of table cloths or dish cloths) or nylon strings. If you are a newbie , I would advise to USE THE COTTON STRINGS as it is the easiest to tie and reed string will break. as for the nylon strings, you have to make it thinner and it is not advisable to boil under high heat.

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Note that the 1st picture is using Pandanus leaf plus a bamboo leaf and uses nylon strings; the string used in the second picture is using a cotton string and the 3rd picture is my Chang wrapped using Bamboo Leaves and reed strings.

(l) Pandanus leaves

As it is hard to get the big Pandanus leaves, I have used some small Pandanus leaves which was cut into small pieces for uses in the cooking of rice and can be recycled by wrapping inside the Chang.

(m) Butterfly Pea Flower (optional)

The butterfly pea flower shall be used for the coloring and it is optional. As far as I know, besides coloring the rice into blue or indigo, the flower do not have any other purposes in the cooking. If you plan to use this, soaked the flowers in hot water for 1-2 hours, let the color diffuse into the water and use these water to soak the rice before cooking. In my demonstration, I did not use these flowers.

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These are the pea flowers that I just pluck this morning and after submerging into the water for an hour, the color of the water become bluish. After one hour of soaking the rice, the rice is slightly bluish. As I have only used 4 flowers for demonstration purposes, therefore the color is slightly lighter. If you insist to have blue color but do not have any pea flowers, then, use blue coloring.


STEPS OF PREPEARATION

Cleaning of leaves and strings

  • Clean the leaves using a new sponge and wipe the leaves. Soak the leaves in hour for 1-2 hours. Use hot water if you want the leaves to be soften faster.

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Preparation of Glutinous Rice

If you looked at the recipes in the net, they are likely to advise you to soak the uncooked rice over night or at least a few hours. However, as this is the short cut method, I have steamed the Chang instead of the boiling the Chang. I will cooked the rice and therefore no soaking of uncooked rice is required.

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  • Wash your rice with clean water and sieved it when done.
  • If you want to use the pea flower, you will have to soak the rice in advance the let the blue color penetrate into the rice.

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  • In a big frying pan, pour in some oil and put half of the chopped garlics and shallots. Stir fry over medium fire until the fragrance begins to spread in the kitchen;
  • Add in half of the coriander powder, white pepper and five spice powder to the mixture and continue frying until the garlics and shallots start to turn brownish. This is pretty fast and you have to carefully monitor it, otherwise, it will get burnt.

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  • Add in the glutinous rice and fried until well mixed (not cooked and it should be quite fast). Add in seasonings and take a few uncooked rice to taste.
  • I have to remind again that you should be rather heavy handed with your seasonings, otherwise, the rice will be  tasteless.
  • Cut the Pandanus leaves into small pieces and throw into the uncooked rice.  Transfer half to your rice cooker. (Half of the rice is about 4 cups which is just nice for my rice cooker. However, if your rice cooker can cook 10-12 cups of rice, you can just put all the uncooked rice and cooked it once)
  • Add water (about 1 cup of uncooked rice with 1 cup of water). Stir it to mix well. (Glutinous rice is sticky and when you fried it, your seasonings may be stick just one part of the rice. Therefore, this step is required to ensure all seasonings are evenly spread to the rice).
  • Select “glutinous rice” function in the rice cooker and it will takes about 45 minutes to 1 hour to cook. Occasionally stir the rice to see if the bottom of the rice is burnt, if yes, stir it to prevent further damage;
  • After about an hour, the rice is cooked. Transfer to a big container, set aside and let it cool before the wrapping starts.
  • If you are unsure about the water needed, add less water first, Then add more water when you find that it is not cooked or start to get burnt. It is ok to have a bit of rice uncooked because you will continue to cook them when you steam the Chang later on.

  • Try to take a small spoon and scope some to taste. If you find that it is not tasty enough, add more seasonings at this stage to salvage your rice. But use liquid seasonings rather than solid seasonings. E.g. use light soya sauce instead of using salt at this stage.


Preparation of fillings

 

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  • In a big frying pan, pour in some more oil and put the other half of the chopped garlics and shallots. Stir fry over medium fire until the fragrance begins to spread in the kitchen;
  • Add in the older half of the coriander powder, white pepper and five spice powder to the mixture and continue frying until the garlics and shallots start to turn brownish.  
  • Add in the chopped mushrooms and fried a few minutes over medium until you can smell the fragrance of the mushrooms.
  • Add in the diced pork belly and fried until say 50% cooked. It is not necessary to be fully cooked because the frying will continues.

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  • Add in the minced meat and fried to say about 70% cooked. Note that the minced meat was not added together with the diced pork belly because minced meat is easier to cook.
  • I preferred to add in the seasonings along long the process because I want the fillings’ color to be dark brownish. The earlier you put it your dark soya sauce, the easier your meat will become darker;
  • Add in the diced candied winter melons. Mixed well and add in sugar and other condiments.
  • Remember that the fillings is quite a lot and you have to be heavy handed with your seasoning.
  • Off the heat when all the fillings are well mixed and the color is even. Not need to be extremely concern whether the fillings is well cooked. Any uncooked fillings will be cooked again during the steaming process.

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  • By now you should note your filling is quite oily. Get ready a container, place two spoons on the bottom and put another bowl upside down on top of the spoons. Transfer the fried fillings to the box and let it cool before you wrap the Chang.
  • The main purpose of this step is to let the oil dripped down to the bottom so that your fillings on top will not be greasy. You can then throw the oil away. This is the traditional method that my mum used to do. However, you can try just to sieve it and let the oil dripped out.



Before wrapping the Chang, let’s recap what you should have in the table.

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Wrapping of Chang

The following pictures was taken by my daughter as I only have two hands cannot capture the image. So it may not be that clear.

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  • Well, since you are using cooked rice, that makes your life easier, you can shape the Chang first
  • On a cutting board, roll the Chang into a long roll, divided it into about 60 g each and shaped it into a ball.
  • Take two bamboo leaves and make it in a shape of a cone.
  • Take one ball and try to make a hole in the middle. If you find that it is sticky, just dip your finger into some clean water and pat it on the glutinous rice.
  • Take a spoon and scope some fillings to fill the cavity;
  • Take another ball and flattened it and cover the fillings. If you want to add Pandanus leaves, add it now;
  • Put some water in your hand and press the rice downwards until you feel that there are no air between the rice and the fillings.

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  • Press the tail of the bamboo leaves to cover the top portion and shape the tail like a swallow tail;
  • Twist it side wards to follow the shapes of the Chang. By now, your Chang should be in triangular shape and you should be able to hold the Chang with one hand.
  • Take a string and looped around the Chang tie using a live knot.
  • If you find that Chang are not really  in the shape you want, try to adjust it now.  Loosen the string or adjust the bamboo leaves to shape it to the desired shape.
  • After wrapping, check that there are no holes resulted from rough handling and there are small areas that are not covered with the leaves. These are “loopholes” that will create problems for you. If you boiled it , the rice will flow out (not all of course) and all the seasonings will be diluted with the water. It will also become sticky. JUST ENSURE THAT THERE ARE NO HOLES IN THE CHANG.
  • If you are newbie, don’t be greedy. Wrap a smaller Chang first, smaller is easier to wrap.

I hope that you can understand what I have described above and I have a YouTube video below to show you how to make the Chang at Zhong Zi- How to wrap Chinese sticky glutinous rice dumpling. Note that this video is sourced from YouTube and courtesy of Ms. Brenda Chiew.

How to wrap Chineses Sticky Glutinous Rice Dumpling

 

If you are still not confident to wrap the Chang, why not try this:

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I  press my Chang in the shape of a bowl and steamed it. If you are not particular about the shape, you can still taste the Chang. 


Steaming the Chang 

  • Steam the Chang for about 10-15 minutes to let the glutinous rice to take shape. Note that unlike the traditional method where you will need to boil the rice which shall take at least 2-3 hours.
  • Your Chang will be ready and serve it when cool such that the glutinous rice will not be overly sticky.

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If you look at the Chang that I have prepared, you will note that the rice stick to each other meaning the rice is very soft. This will be better for those that have gastro intestinal problems.

The light greenish color at one of the corner is the green tea bean paste that I have added since I have some at home. There are a lot of Teo-Chew adding “Oni” or “芋泥” (a type of yam paste) to the Chang and the taste is awesome.


CONCLUSIONS

This post has taken me 2 days to write and its getting longer. I may have a supplementary short post to highlight to you some tips on making the Chang. Once again, I have to stress again and again that my way of writing food preparation series is not really asking you to follow exactly my recipe. I would shared with you my steps in a simplified manners. I hope that readers can via my post, learn some thing, incorporate some of my steps for your convenience and create your own versions.

I hoped that readers can try the method as mentioned in this post to make your own Chang and clear some misconceptions of Chang making. This method have several advantages:

1. Considerably shortened the preparation time.

  • Using the rice cooker to cook the rice and steaming the Chang will at least saved 4-5 hours of preparation time;
  • The usage of food processors to process your garlic, shallots, mushrooms  and meat will save at least another 2-3 hours;
  • The usage of box measurement will cut short your measuring time.

 

2. Using cooked rice instead of raw rice will increase your chances of success.

  • Cooked rice is easy to wrap into your desired shape and it will not leak out from the leaves. Tying the cooked rice Chang will be much easier than the raw rice Chang as it is softer.
  • Usage of cotton strings will also help to ensure the Chang can be tied and no hole in it.
  • Usage of bamboo leaves instead of traditional big Pandanus leaves will also shortened the process of cleaning the leaves and easier to wrap;

 

Take your first step to make some Chang for your family today. Whatever the output will be, your family will appreciate your thoughts and giving all the supports you required. Cheers.

What I cooked today (家常便饭系列)- 3-6-2013

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On 3 June 2013

White rice served with:

1. Capsicum fried with roast meat 青椒炒烧肉
2. Watercress Pork Rib Soup  西洋菜排骨汤
3. Bitter gourd braised with Chinese fermented bean 豆瓣酱炆苦瓜
4. Teochew style braised duck  潮州卤鸭

I have a few guests this week and most of the meals we are dining out as I have to accompany them to do shopping. In another week, my kids will be following their grandmothers back in Kuching. Since there are only two persons in the house, we usually do not cook. The main reason is that we are concern about our weight. In addition, we are rather easy going with foods. All cooking in this series were basically centered around my kids.

With my guest in the house, I have prepared Teochew style braised duck and pork belly meat. As I have mentioned before, usually it is difficult to finish the braised meat within a day. Therefore, it is expected that braised meat related dishes will continue to be served in the table tomorrow.