Simplicity Is The Best–Teochew Kailan Cai Poh Fried Kway Tiao (潮汕芥蓝菜脯炒粿条)

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INTRODUCTION

Whenever we dined at Teochew restaurants, my wife would ordered this dish and whenever she ordered this dish, she would grumbled why we never cooked this noodle dish at home..Since I have the ingredients, I have decided to prepare this dish for lunch today.

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This is a humble dish using 3 less common cooking ingredients for noodle dishes but well liked by the Teochew dialect group.. These are preserved radish (cai poh 菜脯), kailan or Chinese kale (芥蓝)and fish sauce. (鱼露). The taste of these combo with flat rice noodles , kway tiao (粿条)is awesome. I especially love the tiny bits of preserved radish that goes well with the bland and rather tasteless flat rice noodles。。

If you are staying overseas and interested in some homemade 粿条, you can refer to this post: Homemade Chinese Rice Noodles–Hor Fun or He Fen or Guo Tiao (沙河粉,河粉或粿条). You can also refer to the post on more about the background of this flat rice noodles.

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In my humble opinion, this recipe actually comprises of 2 traditional recipes, beef kailan kway tiao (牛肉芥蓝炒粿条)and preserved radish (cai poh) stir fried kway tiao (菜脯炒粿条). The beef kailan kway tiao is more common in restaurant and usually some starches are added to smoothen the fried kway tiao. Preserved radish stir fried kway tiao is more common in household cooking. It can be a vegetarian dish and can be as simple as stir frying using 2 ingredients (cai poh and kway tiao) without the use of garlics and fish sauce…

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For this recipe, I have added some minced meat in the dish for the sake of my  growing  and this is totally optional. What I am sharing is a slightly healthier method of preparation without the use of lard and much less oil.. Of course, taste will be better using traditional method of stir frying using lard and MSG.  So keep in mind that this recipe is a recipe designed to suit current health trends. Don’t be surprised by the non traditional cooking method.

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WHAT IS REQUIRED

Servings: 3-4 adult servings

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  • 400 grams of flat rice noodles or kway tiao
  • 200 grams of kailan, clean and cut into small pieces
  • 200 grams of minced meat (optional)
  • 2-3 tablespoons of preserved radish or caipo
  • 2 tablespoons of fish sauce
  • Dashes of white pepper
  • Pinches of salt (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons of cooking oil

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STEPS OF PREPARATION

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  • Put some water in the pot, put pinches of salt and few drops of cooking oil. Bring to boil and blanch the kailan until soft. Drain and set aside. The main purpose of this step is to pre-cook the vegetable and is optional.  You can add the raw kailan during the noodle stir frying stage but it will be easily become under cooked or over cooked and the colour will be less attractive.

  • In a wok, put the cooking oil, sauté the preserved radish , minced garlic using high heat until fragrant and slight brownish. Add the minced meat (optional) and stir fry until the meat is semi cooked (about 2-3 minutes).

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  • Add the kway tiao and stir fry until well mixed. Use a chop stick to stir the kway tiao if it is difficult to stir fry. Add in the blanched vegetables, followed by fish sauce, dashes of white pepper, stir fry until well combined and dish up.

Note:

  • If you buy store  kway tiao that keep in the chiller, it can be rather hard and there may be a tendency to break. It is advisable that you either water blanch the kway tiao or microwave for 1-2 minutes until the kway tiao is softened before stir frying.

  • You will need to use high heat throughout the stir frying for better tasting cooked rice noodles.

  • You can use a mix of sweet and salty preserved radish for the dish. If you are using 100% salted radish, you have to be careful in adding the salt as both fish sauce and preserved radish are salty.

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CONCLUSION

Though simple but this noodle dish is very tasty and aromatic. I hoped that readers from other dialect groups do give it a try..Feel free to add more ingredients such as prawns, fish cakes, meat slices and etc. to suit your family taste buds, but as a respect to traditional Teochew cuisine, please do not omit kailan, cai poh and fish sauce from the recipe…If you are still doubtful about the combination, order a plate of this noodle dish when you next frequent a Teochew restaurant.

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This recipe was included in Page 43-44 of the “One Pot Noodle E-book”. For more One Pot Noodle Dishes, you can have a copy of Easy One Pot Noodles  – A step by step guide” that was packed with 30 recipes, 60 pages at a reasonable convenience fee of USD5.00. The recipes covered various recipes from curry laksa, prawn noodles to fish head beehoon and etc. Of course not forgetting the well like Economy Bee hoon and Mee Rebus . You can purchase by clicking the link above.You can either pay using Pay Pal or Credit card account. Please ensure that you have an PDF reader like Acrobat or iBooks in your mobile phone or iPad if you intended to read it in your ipad or mobile phone. Should there be any problems of purchasing, feel free to contact me at kengls@singnet.com.sg and separate arrangement can be made.

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Hope you like the post today. Cheers and have a nice day.

Hope you like the post today. Cheers and have a nice day.

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Asian “Potato” Chips–Arrowhead Chips (香脆慈姑片,茨菇片)

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INTRODUCTION

While western countries have potatoes chips, in Singapore and Malaysia, we have arrowhead chips which is as crispy and tasty. In recent years, this snack have become a very common Chinese New Year item to serve visiting house guest and commercially, it was sold at quite a steep price.

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There is actually no recipe for this snack, it is just deep frying some thinly sliced arrowhead and what I am sharing will be some pointers during the preparation of this snack.

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As this is a rather uncommon root during the year round, it will be interesting to know a bit more about arrowhead. As per Wikipedia:

“Sagittaria sagittifolia (also called arrowhead due to the shape of its leaves) is a flowering plant in the family Alismataceae, native towetlands most of Europe from Ireland and Portugal to Finland and Bulgaria, as and in Russia, Ukraine, Siberia, Turkey, China, Australia,Vietnam and the Caucasus. It is also cultivated as a food crop in some other countries. The round tuber is edible. In China, it is known as cigu (Chinese: 慈菇; pinyin: cígū; literally: “benevolent mushroom”), and its tuber is eaten particularly on the Chinese New Year. It tastes bland, with a starchy texture, similar to a potato but somewhat crunchier, even when cooked. ”(source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sagittaria_sagittifolia

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As per Chinese Baidu Baike, it was written that:

“茨菰 – 慈姑属(Sagittaria)淡水植物,约20种,广布全球。多年生,草本生长于浅湖、池塘溪流。叶似头,有肉质球茎,可食。花有3枚圆形花瓣北美常见种是宽叶慈姑(S. latifolia),叶箭形至禾草状,被广泛引种以扩大禽类食源。慈姑(S. sagittifolia)分布欧洲部分地区,在中国则栽培以食用其球茎。一年生植物本草纲目》说:“慈姑一株多产十二子,如慈姑之乳诸子,故以名之。燕尾,其叶之象燕尾分叉,故有此名也”。《本草纲目》称其“达肾气、健脾胃、止泻痢、化痰、润皮毛”,是无公害绿色保健食品中的上等珍品。中医认为茨菇性味甘平、生津润肺、补中益气,对劳伤、咳喘等病有独特疗效。茨菇每年处暑开始种植,元旦春节期间收获上市,为冬春补缺蔬菜种类之一,其营养价值较高,主要成份为淀粉蛋白质和多种维生素,富含铁、钙、锌、、硼等多种活性物所需的微量元素,对人体肌能有调节促进作用,具有较好的药用价值。” (Source: http://baike.baidu.com/view/1421405.htm?fromtitle=%E6%85%88%E5%A7%91&fromid=1128865&type=syn)

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From Chinese definition, it was written that this root was planted during summer and was harvested usually during winter those provide a source of vegetable during Spring festival. That possibly explains for the common consumption of this root during Chinese New Year.

I have to be frank that this is the first year I am preparing it and I am still not good at slicing using the mandolin. So pardon me for the big and small pieces of the chips..

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WHAT IS REQUIRED

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  • Some arrowhead bulbs
  • Some cooking oil for deep frying
  • Some salt for tossing.

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STEPS OF PREPARATION

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  • Peel the arrowhead bulb. Clean and slice using a mandolin or a knife with even thickness. Place the sliced arrowhead on top of some kitchen towel to absorb the moisture. However, this is optional.

  • Heat a pot of cooking oil under medium heat. The oil is considered as ready when the tip of a chopstick is placed in the hot oil, bubbles starts to come out. Put the sliced arrowheads, use a chopstick to stir the arrowheads to avoid sticking. Use low to medium heat to deep fry the chips until golden brown and there is no visible bubbles emitted from the chips. 1-2 minutes before dishing up for draining, turn the heat to high.  Drain and toss with some salt if desired. Once completely cooled, stored in an air tight container.

Notes:

  • If your chips become burnt but not crispy, your heat is too high. Only medium to low heat is needed in the earlier part such that the interior part of the arrowhead can be cooked properly and it is very important that before dishing up, the heat has to be as strong as possible to avoid oil chips.

  • If you chips are oily, it is likely that you did not turn the heat to high for the last few minutes before dishing up for draining.

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  • If your chips have brown colour rings at the outermost part, you have not peel deep enough and any skin component remain will show up dark brownish colour. In addition, arrowhead that are not fresh will also have this dark brownish colour.

  • The thickness of each chip will have to be as even as possible. Otherwise, some chips may be ready whereas some are not, some are burnt but some are soggy.
  • You can also directly peel or slice the arrowhead into the hot oil without pre-cutting in this example . If you are interested of how other are doing, you can refer to: Frying arrowhead corms chips – YouTube

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ONCLUSION

The cost of this illustration is SGD1.oo and what I get is a medium bottle of arrowhead chips that is fresh and crispy. If you are concerned about deep frying, I honestly believed that it can be deep fried using air fryer. However, it may lack the aroma of   deep drying using hot oil. As what I said earlier, I am still new in this preparation, let’s learn together to prepare this. Why not invest S$1 and find out the best way to do the snack?

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Hope you like the post today. Cheers and have a nice day.

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This recipe was included in Page 50 and Page 51 of the above E-book. 

For more Chinese New Year related cookies, snack and steamed cake recipes, you can have a copy of Easy Chinese New Year Recipes – A step by step guide” that was packed with 30 recipes, 60 pages at a reasonable convenience fee of USD3.50. The recipes covered various recipes from auspicious radish cake to nian gao to traditional kuih bangkit to trendy London almond cookies. Of course not forgetting both type of pineapple tarts. You can purchase by clicking the link above. You can either pay using Pay Pal or Credit card account. Please ensure that you have an PDF reader like Acrobat or iBooks in your mobile phone or iPad if you intended to read it in your ipad or mobile phone. Should there be any problems of purchasing, feel free to contact me at kengls@singnet.com.sg and separate arrangement can be made.

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Let Pounding Our Tea …Hakka Tea Rice – Lei Cha aka Lui Cha (“Thunder” Tea 擂茶)

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INTRODUCTION

This is a rather healthy dish…loaded with herbs and vegetables and with very minimum amount of meat (if dry prawns are not used).. It can be easily transform into a pure vegetarian dish if you do not use garlics and dry prawns. This dish can be even healthier if you do not stir fry the vegetables with oil, instead water blanch all the vegetables….Of course, this method will lack the fragrant of sautéed garlic and shallots.

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Lei Cha is a bowl of hot steaming rice, topped with various vegetables, nuts and served with a bowl of slightly salty soup made of peanuts, herbs and green teas.  It was rather common nowadays in Singapore and Malaysia eating outlets especially in the Hakka restaurants. Traditionally, this dish was prepared in the  household of Taipu (大浦)Hakka dialects..

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The taste of this dish is an acquired taste. Either you like it or hate it. It is slightly bitter and sweet (甘甜). The bitterness stems from the herbs mix and the tea used.. The bitterness will “subside” after you take the second or third spoon of the soup..

 

The word Lei Cha (擂茶) means grounding of tea.. Lei is an action of grinding and pounding of tea.  Peanuts and sesame seeds are pounded and ground together with the herbs in a wooden mortar until very fine. However, in current year, most recipes have used food processor and blender for the job.

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As usual, let’s have Wikipedia to explain to us this traditional cuisine:

“Lei cha (Chinese: 擂茶; pinyin: léi chá; literally “pounded tea“) or ground tea is a traditional Han-Chinese tea-based beverage or gruel. The custom of Lei cha began in the Three Kingdoms period or even Han Dynasty. It is very prevalent among Hakka people in Hakka regions of Mainland China (mainly Southeast China). It is brought by Hakka people to Taiwan, Malaysia, and any locales with a substantial Hakka diaspora population. Besides Hakka Lei cha, Lei cha is also very traditional among Hunanese people in Northern part of Hunan Province of Mainland China. So, the Lei cha custom in China has two different kinds: Hakka Lei cha; and Hunan Lei cha.Lei cha is not the same as Chinese tea because there are always other ingredients. Pounded tea consists of a mix of tea leaves and herbs that are ground or pounded together with various roasted nuts, seeds, grains, and flavorings. “(Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lei_cha)

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“擂茶,又名三生湯鹹茶,是一種漢族特色食品。擂茶主要流传于中国大陸東南部一帶。擂茶是把茶叶、芝麻、花生等原料混合乾擂研磨成后,再加入水泡勻享用的养生茶饮。擂者,研磨也。擂茶在中国大陸分佈甚廣,各地擂茶制作方法各有不同,尤其是配料的选择差别较大。擂茶按地域和族群可以分为客家擂茶和湖南(非客家)擂茶两大类。客家擂茶可能源于北宋的中原地区(现河南省固始一带),南宋诗中有“渐近中原语音好,见客擂蔴旋点茶”句。客家擂茶是客家文化的重要組成部分之一,客家人更把擂茶帶到了台灣。保留客家擂茶古朴习俗的地方有:江西省的赣县、石城、兴国、于都、瑞金等;福建省的将乐、泰宁、宁化等地;广东省的揭西、陆河、清远、英德、海丰、汕尾、惠来、五华等地;广西省的贺州黄姚、公会、八步等地。擂茶是客家族群招待貴賓所用的茶點。客家擂茶不單飽肚,還可解渴。廣東廣西客家人的傳統做法,一般用小米花生芝麻生薑黃豆等食材經複雜手續加工而成,呈粉末狀。食用時沖入開水調勻成糊狀,或加入涼水在鐵鍋中煮開調勻。具獨特的香味,微,美味可口。客家擂茶文化在福建的客家人中亦有分布,主要有两处:一是宁化县,一是将乐县。其中将乐县的擂茶在民俗中尤其重要。民间的各类喜庆节日、红白事项、交友往来,平常待客,乃至日常生活,均离不开它。在交往方面,它比酒席更宽广、层次更丰富。邀请的客人可以是亲戚、朋友、同事,甚至可以是朋友的朋友、过往的路人。该地人情味极浓,与客家的擂茶文化有关。将乐擂茶以芝蔴、茶叶为主料,佐以少量桂皮、桔皮等香料,夏秋季节,有时还用少量青草药,用微量水擂烂原料成糊状后,冲入稍凉后的沸水,成悬浮液。平日间,三五朋友,隔壁邻居,小擂小饮;遇喜庆事,或春日擂茶,客人一拨接一拨,流水席,加配满桌花生、瓜子、炒笋、油粿等小菜,常要安排一天时间,大喜庆如结婚等,有连擂两三天的。” (Source: http://zh.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E6%93%82%E8%8C%B6)

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From the above 2 definitions, I wished to highlight the following:

  • Lei Cha shall be translated as “Pounded Tea” instead of “Thunder Tea” since the word Lei (擂)is an pounding action and different from the word Lei (雷)as for thunder.
  • It is not only a Hakka dish, Hunanese people  also prepared Lei Cha as well,
  • Another name for this tea is “咸茶“ or savoury tea suggested that the tea should be slightly salty;
  • The name “三生汤” or “养生茶” suggested that this tea is a soup that are beneficial to our bodies because it was loaded with herbs beneficial to our bodies;
  • There are many regional adaption of cooking ingredients and preparation methods and none shall claim that hers or his is the most authentic.

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For this illustration, I have purposely prepare 9 dishes (including the herbal soup and white rice) as it is an auspicious number meaning eternality.. There are many herbs and vegetables stated but most are optional and substitutable except Thai basil, mint leaves, coriander, Chinese Tea, peanuts and sesame seeds. These are few ingredients that give the distinctive taste. Preparation is a bit laborious and I am rather happy that I have successfully prepared it. Feedback from Hakka relatives are that the soup is tasty but is not as fine as what she had prepared using the wooden mortar..

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WHAT IS REQUIRED

Servings: 4-6 adult servings

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Soup

  • 200 grams of roasted or cooked peanuts (花生)
  • 100 grams of Thai basil leaves (九层塔)
  • 100 grams of mint leaves (薄荷)
  • 60 grams of coriander leaves (芫茜)
  • 60 grams of mugwort leaves (艾叶)
  • 3 tablespoons of tea leaves (茶叶)
  • 2 tablespoons of toasted sesame seeds (芝麻)
  • 2 cloves of garlic (蒜头)- optional
  • 1 cm of ginger (姜)- optional
  • Salt to taste (盐巴)
  • Dashes of white pepper (胡椒粉)- optional

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Dishes

  • Some Chinese mustards (芥菜)
  • Some French beans (四季豆)
  • Some long beans (长豆)
  • Some Chinese leeks (大蒜)
  • Some winged beans (四菱豆)
  • Some firm bean curd (豆干)
  • Some preserved radish (菜脯碎)
  • Some dried prawns (虾米)

Note: I have prepared 7 dishes but the quantities and type of ingredients are up to individual to decide. Feel free to change to your preferred vegetables that your family likes. As a reference, you can use 100 grams of all the vegetables). Some recipes uses red beans, anchovies, sayur mani as well.

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STEPS OF PREPARATION

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  • Pluck all the young vegetable leaves, clean and drain.

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  • Steep the tea leaves with some hot water. Set aside.

  • In a food processor, blend all the herbs until as find as you can.

  • In a blender, blend the peanut, sesame seeds and the tea leaves (with the tea) until fine. As it is hard to blend the peanut and sesame seeds, some water may be required. Transfer the blended herbs to the blender, add salt, dashes of white pepper and continue to blend until as fine as possible. Add more hot water if you can’t blend it properly. Blend until it resemble a paste. When serving, 1-2 teaspoon of the paste will be put in a bowl and steep with some boiling hot water and it will become the soup to serve with the rice.

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  • Wash the vegetables and julienne it into small pieces.

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  • For the vegetables, sauté chopped garlics with some oil, stir fry the vegetables individually. Add your preferred seasonings and salt to taste, Dish up.

  • For the tofu dish, sauté chopped garlics with some oil, add the dry prawns, preserved radish and stir fry until fragrant. Add the firm bean curd stripes, stir fry until well mixed. Add seasonings (suggested: light soya sauce, white pepper, salt and sugar to taste). Dish up.

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  • For assembly, have a bowl of steaming white rice, put a tablespoon of all the vegetables on top the rice, sprinkle with additional peanuts. In another bowl, put 2-3 tablespoons of tea paste, steep with hot water to prepare the tea soup. Serve this bowl of rice with the tea soup.

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CONCLUSION

Like many traditional cuisines, every household will claim that theirs is the most authentic. In my humble opinion, none shall claim that theirs is authentic as it is a dish with a long history and with many regional adaptions of methods and cooking ingredients.. Let’s be open minded. Searching of recipes yield many totally different recipes and I will just choose one that will suit my taste buds. I hope that this post will serve as a starting recipe for readers who have never prepare the dish before.. Have a first trial and amend or adjust the ingredients in your second trial to suit your family’s taste buds. Remember only the few critical ingredients that was mentioned above and I would strongly advise not to omit it.

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Hope you like the post today. Cheers and have a nice day.

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Playing With Recrystallization of Sugar–Sugar Coated Yam Sticks (反沙芋头)

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INTRODUCTION

This is an easy peasy recipe but hard to master… I have tried many times and comes out with these rather ugly sugar coated yam stick.. Well, just to assure readers that if you are not able to do the coating properly, it is still nice to eat and worst come to worst, it will become thick syrup coated sugar sticks and that is another Teochew delicacies.

IMG_4160 Thick syrup coated yam cubes (高烧芋)

As this Teochew or Chazhou dessert is not really common in Singapore and Malaysia restaurants, I do not expect many readers of other dialects know about this delicacy. However, it is rather common in Hong Kong and China’s Teochew or Chaozhou restaurant. I do have a fair share of nicely sugar coated yam stick.s It is supposed to be crispy but when you bite it, the sugar become very sandy.

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Is it too sweet? Whether sweet or not will depend on one’s skill of coating and the size of the yam stick. If you have over coated some tiny sized yam stick, it will definitely be sweet. If you have a thin coating of thick yam stick, it will not be sweet at all and pleasure is to bite the sandy sugar coated with the yam. Traditional, this dessert is served with a type of Chinese tea called kungfu tea which is not sweetened. Is it not balance off the sweetness.

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This recipe requires practise as it deals with recrystallization of sugar. When sugar is boiled with water, a syrup is formed. At 18 degree Celsius, sugar syrup is stable, When one continues to boil, water moisture is lost and syrup will become unstable as it is super saturated.When super saturated syrups cooled down, excess sugar crystals will precipitate and crystalize out of the solution those forming white crystalized sugar. Further boiling will caramelize the sugar syrup and when cooled, becomes a big piece of brown sugar is formed.  Therefore, essentially, one will only have probably 1 minute to properly coat the yam stick with white sandy sugar…. It does need practise and possibly that explains why the restaurant is charging rather high for a white coloured sugar coated yam stick..

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For those who understand Mandarin, Chinese Wikipedia records that :

反沙芋中國潮州的一道很講究烹調功夫的甜點,把切成手指般大小的芋頭,加入沙糖炒勻至芋頭塊乾身及香脆。難度是先把沙糖下鑊慢火炒溶成液狀,下芋頭條繼續炒,使芋頭條在炒熟的同時要全條被糖液全包裹並慢慢轉乾回沙糖狀全包裹着芋頭條,由沙狀轉液狀再轉回沙狀此過程稱為「反沙」,習慣上進食反沙芋時配合喝鐵觀音,有消除滯脹感的作 用。” (Source: http://zh.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E5%8F%8D%E6%B2%99%E8%8A%8B)

However, the method that I am sharing is slightly different from what is written in Chinese Wikipedia. To make the yam more fragrant and easier to coat, it was pre-cooked before sugar coating was done.

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WHAT IS REQUIRED

Servings: 5-6 adult servings

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  • 500 grams of yam or taro
  • 220 grams of white sugar
  • 100 grams of plain water
  • 1 teaspoon of deep fried shallots or garlics (optional)
  • Adequate cooking oil for deep frying

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STEPS OF PREPARATION

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  • Skinned the yam, cut into finger size length and thickness. Deep fry in a pot of hot oil under medium heat until the yam is cooked. The yam is considered as cooked when one can easily insert a chopstick into the centre of of the yam. Drain and set aside.

  • In another pan, add the sugar and water , bring to boil. Once it boils, you will witness some big bubbles being formed. The bubbles will become smaller and smaller upon further boiling as the syrup has thickened. Once the small bubbles are formed, add the deep fried yam stick and coat with syrup as evenly as possible. After 1/2 a minute, off the heat and continue . It is considered as done when you take a piece of yam stick out of the pan, the sugar starts to crystallize on the yam stick when it touches the air.

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  • Best served as a dessert with a cup of Chinese tea.

Note:

  • If it refuses to crystallize, continue stir frying under low heat to get rid of excess water vapour. If it over crystallizes, add a bit water to let the sugar dissolve and repeat the process again. However, the colour may not be whitish but slightly caramel in colour.

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CONCLUSION

Personally, I need more practise on this Teochew dessert. The method is there and let learns together to master it. I hope this post will benefit readers who are looking for the recipe of this less known Teochew dessert. Again, sweet or not sweet is up to you how thick is your coating and how big is your yam stick.  Even the coating is too thick, you can always scrap off the sugar when you are eating.

Processed with Moldiv

Hope you like the post today. Cheers and have a nice day.

Processed with Moldiv

 


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Golf Ball Pineapple Tarts (凤梨酥)- Part 2

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INTRODUCTION

I have decided to rewrite the procedure of this golf ball pineapple tarts as the first post : What A Golf Ball Have To Do With A Pineapple? Well, It Is The Famous South East Asian Pineapple Tarts (凤梨酥) was too detailed and readers may be confused. Therefore, this post have summarized the procedures for easy reference. For more write up on pineapple tarts and detail explanation of the procedures and the vegetarian pineapple tarts, please refer to the above post.

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WHAT IS REQUIRED

Servings: About 100-120 golf balls pineapple tarts

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  • 500 grams  of plain flour
  • 350 grams of salted butter (softened at room temperature)
  • 50grams of icing sugar
  • 4 egg yolks (note that in the picture there are some egg whites which is not supposed to be there)
  • 4 tablespoons of icy cold water. You can have 3 tablespoons of water from the fridge and one ice cubes.
  • Pinches of salt
  • 2 egg yolks (for egg washing)

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STEPS OF PREPARATION

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  • Take some jam of about 10 grams and shape it round. Arrange it in a container to be stored in the freezer later. The jam may be sticky and if it is overly sticky, pat your hands with some water before the shaping. Once done, deep freeze for 1-2 hours or until you feel comfortable to handle. Do not worry if the dough is too too hard, it will start to turn soft in  the subsequent step and start defrosting while you are shaping the others. if you are able to handle the soft jam, deep freezing step is optional..

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  • Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg yolks one by one and beat until well combined.

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  • Sift in the flour in three phases and alternate with icy cold water until well mixed. Chill the dough in the fridge if it is too soft for you to handle. This step is optional if you are able to handle a soft dough.

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  • Pre-heat the oven to 180 degree Celsius.

  • Pinch a dough of about 10 grams each, shape round, lightly flatten it, put a pineapple jam ball on top of the dough, seal the edges and shape round again. Egg wash the pineapple tarts before baking in the pre-heated oven of 180 degree Celsius for about 20 minutes. If you prefer, you can have the second egg wash after 10 minutes of baking. It will help to repair cracks. Cracks will arises if the dough is too thin.

  • For egg washing, hand beaten 2 egg yolks and add 2 big tablespoons of water and 2 drops of oil. Sift before application.

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CONCLUSION

Remember that this is the simplify recipe for the golf ball pineapple tarts recipe. Please refer to the original post for more elaborate explanation. What A Golf Ball Have To Do With A Pineapple? Well, It Is The Famous South East Asian Pineapple Tarts (凤梨酥) and if you need homemade pineapple jam, please refer to this post – Quick and Easy 30 minutes Homemade Pineapple Jam (30 分钟简易凤梨酱). Lastly, if you need pure vegetarian pineapple tarts recipe, you can refer the same post also.

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Cheers and have a nice day.

This recipe was included in Page 34 and Page 35 of the following E-book. 

For more Chinese New Year related cookies, snack and steamed cake recipes, you can have a copy of Easy Chinese New Year Recipes – A step by step guide” that was packed with 30 recipes, 60 pages at a reasonable convenience fee of USD3.50. The recipes covered various recipes from auspicious radish cake to nian gao to traditional kuih bangkit to trendy London almond cookies. Of course not forgetting both type of pineapple tarts. You can purchase by clicking the link above. You can either pay using Pay Pal or Credit card account. Please ensure that you have an PDF reader like Acrobat or iBooks in your mobile phone or iPad if you intended to read it in your ipad or mobile phone. Should there be any problems of purchasing, feel free to contact me at kengls@singnet.com.sg and separate arrangement can be made.

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Let’s Try A Japanese Honey Sponge Cake–Castella or Kasutera (カステラ, 长崎蛋糕)

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INTRODUCTION

Very frankly, I have never tasted a piece of Castella cake or Japanese Kasutera honey sponge cake before. However, the pictures in the internet always captured my attention.. It looks like a moist, dense but tasty cake..

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I goggled the recipes and most recipes are the same using small quantities of honey, eggs, bread flour and sugar. No oil are used and it does fall under the western cake categorization of “sponge cake”..

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Since most of the recipes are the same, I took one from the Japanese Cook pad.com and started baking it.. It came out a nice cake.. However, I do not know why it doesn’t look like the picture of commercially sold Castella cakes.. Apparently, it is not as compact but fluffier. That lead me to believe that commercially sold Castella definitely have a different recipe from the common recipes circulating in the internet..

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Could it be due to:

  • Some fats or oil are added;
  • Only egg yolks are used to make it moister and tastier;
  • The addition of condensed milk to enhance the binding of the cake;
  • Use of low protein flour instead of bread flour to enhance the fineness  and texture of the cake;
  • Use of traditional wooden frame for baking and normal baking pan are too hot for the cake; . 
  • Use of water bath method to enhance the moistures of the cake?

 

There are just too many possibilities for me to guess and try out.. Of course the answer will not be easily available since it will definitely be considered as a trade secret among the industry players. Updated: After issuance of this post, subsequent reviews of recipes in Chinese blogs shows that there are many modified version and most versions have added melted butter, milk and use of low protein powder. Some have added ovalette at all As such it looks different from this illustration. Again this illustration is based on traditional recipes that do not have any fats and milk that falls under sponge cake categorization. Those that uses butter will become a mix of shortened cake and sponge cake.

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Much have been said about this cake and it seems many bloggers have failed many times before successfully baking one.. I am unsure if my cake was considered as failed or passed.. Shrinkage is minimal or not noticeable at all, colour tone looked okay, texture is fluffy and it tasted  exactly like a mirin flavoured baked sponge cake..I will leave it to the readers to decide if this bake is considered as successful or not…

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Per Wikipedia:

“Castella (カステラ Kasutera?) is a popular Japanese sponge cake made of sugar, flour, eggs, and starch syrup. Now a specialty of Nagasaki, the cake was brought to Japan by Portuguese merchants in the 16th century. The name is derived from Portuguese Pão de Castela, meaning “bread from Castile“. Castella cake is usually sold in long boxes, with the cake inside being approximately 27 cm long. It is somewhat similar to Madeira cake, also associated with Portugal, but its closest relative is pão-de-ló, also a Portuguese cake.” (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Castella)

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WHAT IS REQUIRED

Recipe adapted from: Moist, Authentic, Quality Homemade Castella Cake Recipe

Servings: One 16cm x 24 cm x 8 cm rectangular loaf

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  • 4 eggs
  • 100 grams of white sugar
  • 100 grams of bread flour or high protein flour
  • 2 tablespoons of honey
  • 2 tablespoons of Mirin or Japanese cooking wine (substitute with milk)

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STEPS OF PREPARATION

  • Pre-heat the oven to 180 degree Celsius.

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  • Greased the pan lightly and line the baking pan with parchment paper.

  • Put the mirin and honey in a microwavable bowl, microwave for 10 seconds or until the honey dissolves in the warm mirin.

  • Crack the eggs in a mixing bowl of a stand mixer, beat at medium speed until bubbly. Add sugar tablespoon by tablespoon.

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  • Continue beating at high speed until the egg batter expands to at least double in size and form ribbon stage (took about 10 minutes). Ribbon stage means when you took out the whisker, the egg batter drips down slowly rather than flows down rapidly. Add the warm honey mixture gradually and use the mixer’s lowest speed to “beat” for 30 seconds until well combined.

  • Sift in 1/3 of the bread flour, fold quickly until well combined. Perform the same for the remaining 2/3 of the bread flour. Fold until well combined and no lumps noted.

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  • Pour the batter to the baking tin from as high as possible to minimize trapped air bubbles. Tap the baking tin three times on the table to push out any trapped air bubbles.

  • Put the baking tin to the oven, reduce the temperature to 170 degree Celsius and bake for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, reduce the temperature to 140 degree Celsius and continue baking for another 40 minutes.

  • For a moist and denser cake, once the cake is out of oven, take out the cake and wrap with a piece of clingy wrap. Leave it in room temperature for 1-2 days. Cut using a sharp serrated knife.

Note:

  • Traditional Castella are prepared using special wooden frame. It is believed that normal baking tin is too hot for this cake. To ensure even rising, you can try to wrap a wet towel around the baking tin and continue baking. Alternatively, there are bakers who use paper boxes, wrapped it with 2 layers of aluminium foils followed by lining with parchment paper. If you prefer, you can try this method.

  • This recipe’s temperature will ensure quite even browning. However, if your top browns too quickly, quickly put some aluminium foil on top of the baking tin.

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CONCLUSION

Again, I am unsure how you viewed my Castella cake. If you considered as successful, I can tell you it is not a difficult cake to prepare. The critical areas are egg beating until ribbon stage and folding to well mixed.. I will update the recipe if I managed to find one that is different and worth trying..Lastly, not forgetting to mention that this is a very healthy oil less cake full of Mirin and honey flavour… No Mirin, no worry, substitute with fresh milk will do.

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Hope you like the post today. Cheers and have a nice day.

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Shrimp Angel Hair Pasta With Cream Sauce (海虾白酱意大利天使面)

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INTRODUCTION

Me and my wife was having dinner in an Italian restaurants with our friends.. Though we are not really happy with the other dishes that we ordered, but we are generally pleased with the angel hair pasta in carbonara sauce.

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It definitely did not look delish but it was tasty with a slightly different texture will the normal pasta. I told my wife that I will replicate the pasta and that is the reason of this post.

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As per Wikipedia,

“Capellini (Italian pronunciation: [kapelˈliːni], literally “thin hair”) with its diameter between 0.85 mm and 0.92 mm is a very thin variety of Italian pasta. Like spaghetti, it is rod-shaped, in the form of long strands. Capelli d’angelo ([kaˈpelli ˈdandʒelo], literally angel hair — hence, “angel hair pasta” in English) with a diameter between 0.78 and 0.88 mm is an even thinner variant of capellini. They are often sold in a nest-like shape. Capelli d’angelo has been popular in Italy since at least the 14th century. As a very light pasta, it goes well in soups or as “pasta asciutta” with a seafood or other light sauces.”  (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capellini)

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As I can’t get the nested like Capelli d’angelo or angel hair pasta,  I have used the capellini instead. 

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As for the sauce, it is my own creation and taste like a combination of béchamel (white sauce) and carbonara sauce…. Since I can’t find a relevant name for my own sauce, I have decided to use the common name “cream sauce”.

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WHAT IS REQUIRED

Servings: 2 adults

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  • 150 grams of angel hair pasta or capellini
  • 1/2 cup of cooking cream or double cream
  • 3 cloves of garlic , minced
  • 10 canned or fresh button mushrooms, sliced into thin pieces
  • 1 tablespoon of butter
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil or cooking oil
  • 1 teaspoon of oregano or Italian mixed herbs
  • 6-8 prawns, shelled
  • 3 pieces of hams, sliced into thin stripes
  • Dashes of black pepper
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 piece of chicken stock mixed with 1/2 cup of water or 1/2 cup of ready made chicken stock

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STEPS OF PREPARARTION

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  • Bring a large pot of water with some salt to boil. Add the pasta and cooked for about 10 minutes or until al dente , drained and set aside. It is best that you refer to the capellini packaging for cooking instructions.

  • In a pan, sauté the garlic with butter for 1-2 minutes (ensure that the garlic are not golden brown like oriental cooking) . Add the chicken stocks.

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  • Add in the cut mushrooms, cooking cream and prawns. Let it simmer until the prawns are cooked and become pink (about 2-3 minutes). Add in dashes of black pepper, oregano or Italian mixed herbs and salt to taste. Stir until well mix. Add in the drained pasta, toss until well mixed and the pasta is ready to be served. Can be garnished with additional Italian herbs or freshly chopped parsley.

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CONCLUSION

An easy recipe with great taste. If you never try angel hair pasta, do give it a try. It is less chewy due to its small diameter and it pairs well with white sauce.

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Hope you like the post today. Cheers and have a nice day.

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