Coconut Become Butter ?–Kerisik (椰子酱)

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INTRODUCTION

I issued my Rendang Ayam (马来仁当鸡) post yesterday and I have a lengthy discussion about kerisik or coconut butter. Yesterday, I try to pound toasted shredded coconut very hard and I can’t get the paste like the oily kerisik and I gave up eventually…

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Members of the Facebook Group assured me that it can be done..I have to be frank that I do not really believed the ability of changing some shredded coconut into coconut oil by manual pounding but I promised them that I will try again when I managed to get hold of some freshly grated coconut. This morning, I purposely went to Geylang Serai market, among other things, bought half a kilo of freshly shredded coconut for the purposes of preparing kerisik.

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The preparation process was rather amazing and shocking that a paste can really be formed by pounding the toasted coconut and it gradually become an oily emulsion..I have used both the food processor and manual pounding to get the oily kerisik.

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Preparation is actually not tough with the availability of of new kitchen equipment such as food processor. Since my food processor is rather large, i have to transfer it to the traditional mortal and pastel for the final grinding to force out the oil.. Overall, it took me about 15 minutes or slightly more for processing and grinding.

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I put some into the gulai nangka or nangka vegetable curry and my conclusion is that it is an acquired taste… It tasted like some coconut oil with some burnt coconut bits. That flavour is familiar in the rendang prepared in West Malaysia but slightly different from those that I have tasted in Sarawak and Singapore.. Since it is an acquired taste, I believed some readers who are familiar with kerisik must be looking for such a recipe  Another reason of sharing is that the freshly made kerisik taste really different from the store bought especially in Singapore . These kerisik are imported from Malaysia may be months ago. It have an unpleasant “oily” smell that irks me..

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Kerisik was termed as a wonder ingredient for rendang, beside rendang, it can be used for nasi ulam, kerabu salads or curries. Per Wikipedia, it was mentioned that:

“Kerisik is used in Malaysian and Singaporean cooking. Coconut is grated, toasted, then ground to a paste. It is sometimes referred to as coconut butter. It can be made at home or bought ready made. It is used in dishes such as kerabu salads and rendang. It is not easily found outside Malaysia and Singapore, and will be most likely only found in Asian specialty food shops outside of these countries. However, pre-made kerisik can develop an unpleasant smell. Fresh kerisik can be easily made from fresh coconut which is grated and fried, then ground in a mortar and pestle. Dried grated coconut can also be used, however the resulting paste is not as fragrant.” (source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kerisik)

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Though Wikipedia said that Kerisik cannot be found outside Singapore and Malaysia, I have to disagree that it was found in Indonesia. When I posted in an Indonesia Facebook Group, many members knew about this coconut butter.and is of the names koya, kelapa gongseng, bumbu rendang, blondo etc. Some members even uses this to prepare cake,  mee soto etc. .

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Apparently, my “failed” kerisik as in the picture above is also called kerisik by the  Peranakan community and used in the preparation of nasi ulam, a type of herbs rice…and I am rather confused as to what is actually kerisik and I will leave it to readers to decide on the definition of kerisik. Is both oily and dry version all can be termed as kerisik?

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WHAT IS REQUIRED

  • Some freshly grated coconut

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STEPS OF PREPARATION

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  • Put the freshly grated coconut in a big wok or frying pan. Stir frying under medium heat until dry, crispy and brownish. While it is hot, transfer the toasted coconut to a food processor, blend it for about 5 minutes. In this process, you will witness oil starts to excrete from the coconut and the toasted coconut become moist and stick to to the sides of the food processor. Transfer the blended coconut to the mortar and pound cum grind until oil starts to excrete out. It is considered as done when the paste become very shinny and coconut oil can be seen.. Overall, it took me about 15 minutes of continuous  blending and pounding.

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CONCLUSION

I have never planned to blog this recipe. I believed this recipe will benefit those who want some homemade kerisik. All this while, I thought that kerisik is coarsely toasted shredded coconut (used in Nasi Ulam of Peranakan cuisines). But since Wikipedia’s defined it as coconut butter and with Facebook Group’s members assurance, I take a bold move to prepare this oily kerisik.  I am amazed and shocked  by the entire process but as to the taste, for the oily kerisik, in my humble opinion, it is an acquired taste.. Those who are familiar with it will love it and it is definitely much better than those sold in the stores. However, personally, I  preferred drier kerisik.

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

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A Dish That Existed In The 15th Century Or Earlier?–Rendang Ayam (马来仁当鸡)

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INTRODUCTION

If you asked me to choose one representative dish of our Malay brothers and sisters, I will definitely choose rendang  For me, most Malay households will have their very own unique recipe and everyone will claims theirs is the best. It is not uncommon for me to hop house by house during Hari Raya Aidilfiltri open house to taste their rendang chickens.

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I can totally understand such claims as this is a dish with long historical background and it was mentioned in a Malay literature Hikayat Amir Hamzah in 1550’s. It was a dish of Minangkabau origin, an ethnic race in Sumatra, Indonesia and traditionally such cooking was done as a meat preservation cooking especially for beefs. 

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As per Wikipedia, it was written:

“Rendang is a spicy meat dish which originated from the Minangkabau ethnic group of Indonesia,and is now commonly served across the country. One of the characteristic foods of Minangkabau culture, it is served at ceremonial occasions and to honour guests. Rendang is also served among the Malay community in Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei and also in Southern Philippines. Rendang is traditionally prepared by the Minangkabau community during festive occasions such as traditional ceremonies, wedding feasts, and Hari Raya (Eid al-Fitr). Culinary experts often describe rendang as: ‘West Sumatran caramelized beef curry  In 2011 an online poll by 35,000 people held by CNN International chose Rendang as the number one dish of their ‘World’s 50 Most Delicious Foods (Readers’ Pick)’ list.

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The cooking technique flourished because of its role in preserving meat in a tropical climate. Prior to refrigeration technology, this style of cooking enabled preservation of the large amount of meat. Rendang is rich in spices. Along with the main meat ingredient, rendang uses coconut milk (Minangkabau: karambia) and a paste of mixed ground spices, which includes ginger, galangal, turmeric leaves, lemon grass, garlic, shallot, chillies and other spices. This spice mixture is called pemasak in Minangkabau. The spices, garlic, shallot, ginger and galangal used in rendang have antimicrobial properties and serve as natural organic preservatives. If cooked properly, dry rendang can last for as long as four weeks. (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rendang)

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One of the unique ingredients of this dish in Malaysia and Singapore recipes is kerisik or so called coconut butter but tis was not used in Indonesia recipes.  I have to be frank that I have failed in the preparation of the kerisik as I can’t get the paste i want. I will try again and therefore, in this post, I will not share the recipe of Kerisik in this post.  The picture below is my pounded kerisik but no oil was excreted.

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For kerisik, I was told that it is possible to toast the coconut, pound it while it is hot until the coconut oil is excreted. A paste is then formed.  I did not manage to get to that stage and I gave up.. In fact, I prefer my rendang to have some coconut bits to bite rather similar with Indonesia recipes that uses shredded coconut. . Members of Facebook Group told me that with the coconut butter,  it will give me an extra “oomph” in the dish.. I am unsure what extra oomph is this but what i knew is my rendang tastes like what I used to eat during Hari Raya visiting or what i bought from the Malay food stores.  I am totally unsure whether or not these families or stores have prepared using homemade coconut butter as described above.

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Of course, new house chefs, don’t be deter by this, you can always buy ready made kerisik from the wet market stalls that sell curry rempah or spice mix. But, package kerisik that are not fresh will ruin your whole pot of your rendang.

Updated Post on 7 January 2015

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Today, I have successfully prepared the kerisik. The taste is totally different from the package kerisik. You can refer to the recipes here: Coconut Become Butter ?–Kerisik (椰子酱)

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I especially love this dish as most of the herbs can be obtained freshly in the markets or planted at home. These are herbs that are very familiar to me since young – from galangal to turmeric to lemon grass to chilli… Unlike other Malay dishes, the spice mix did not include other middle eastern spices like jintan manis, jintan putih, curry powder and etc.. Therefore, the taste is very local with a very familiar fragrance mixed with strong coconut aroma.

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The meat are supposed to cook until it falls of the bone and the same recipe can be used for beef or lamb.

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Ideally, three type of leaves shall be used: turmeric leaves, bay leaves (daun salam) and kafir lime leaves. As I can’t find turmeric fresh leaves and bay leaves, I have omitted the usage of these leaves and only kafir lime leaves are used. The picture was updated on 7-1-2015 subsequent to the issuance of this report.

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WHAT IS RQUIRED

Recipe adapted from : Resepi Rendang Ayam Chef Wan Yang Istimewa |

Servings: 5-6 adults

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  • 1 medium size chicken cut into big chunks

For blending together

  • 10 red chilli
  • 15 shallots
  • 10 cloves of garlic
  • 3 stalks of lemon grass
  • 5 cm galangal
  • 6 cm of ginger

Others

  • 1 tablespoon of turmeric powder or 2 cm of fresh turmeric
  • 1 piece of turmeric leaves (daun kunyit) – shredded – not in picture
  • 3 pieces of kafir lime leaves – shredded (optional)
  • 5 pieces of bay leaves – shredded (optional) – not in picture
  • 2 tablespoons of kerisik (not in picture and please ignore the fresh coconut) or 4 big tablespoons of fresh coconut or toasted coconuts
  • 300 ml of concentrated coconut milk
  • 1 cup of tamarind water (assam jawa)
  • 2 tablespoons of sugar or gula Melaka
  • 4 tablespoons of oil
  • Salt to taste

For recipe of kerisik, please refer to: Coconut Become Butter ?–Kerisik (椰子酱)

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STEPS OF PREPARATION

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  • Blend all the herbs together until fine to become the spice mix.or herbs mix.

  • In a big wok, put the cooking oil, sauté the spice mix, turmeric powder under medium heat until fragrant and oil starts to separate from the herbs mix. In this stage, you will witness loss of water vapour, colour become darker and the herbs mix become drier.

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  • Add in the chicken chunks, stir fry until well mixed and the chicken starts to get drier. Add the tamarind water, bring to boil, let it simmer until almost dry. Add in the coconut milk and the shredded turmeric leaves, bay leaves and kaffir lime leaves, bring to boil, change to low heat and let it simmer until the meat is soft and the gravy is thick and concentrated. In this process, for every 10 minutes, give the meat a stir. Once ready, add the sugar, salt to taste, kerisik or toasted coconut or freshly grated coconut. Stir fry until well mixed. Off the heat  For this illustration, it took me about 1 hour to cook to my desired meat texture and consistency. Rendang is best served warm with white rice, lemang and ketupat.

Note:

The same recipe can be used for lamb or beef but the cooking hours will be much longer to get that melt in the mouth texture. Pressure cooker can be considered to expedite the cooking process.

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CONCLUSION

I hoped that this recipe will help readers who are looking for rendang recipe. Though most of the Malaysia rendang recipes called for the use of kerisik, in my humble opinion, this is optional as the recipe are using a lot of coconut milk and shredded/toasted coconut. The coconut aroma is already very strong and the meat is very smooth since at the final stage of cooking, the coconut milk will become coconut oil after long hours of cooking. In addition, most Indonesian recipes (country where rendang originates) also never use kerisik at all… Well, that is my humble opinion and I will leave it to readers to decide.  If you are buying ready packet of kerisik, ensure that it is very fresh, otherwise, it will spoil your whole dish…Though no real kerisik is used, I did not find  any magnificent difference in taste with the rendang that I have eaten before. Sorry for this less than humble way of describing my dish.

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

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No Bake Peanut Butter Cornflake Cookies (免烤酥脆玉米片曲奇)

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INTRODUCTION

All these while, i am blogging traditional cookies and never really blog a trendy cookie.. In order to diversify my cookies recipe, I have decided to blog this rather trendy cookies commonly served during Chinese New Year..

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Most kids will like this cookie as it is prepared using corn flakes. As contrast to other melt in the mouth cookies, is a crispy cookies full of cereal flavour.

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I am not new to this cookies as my nieces like to prepare this during Chinese New Year. Most of the recipes in the net need to bake this simple cookies for about 10 minutes and I have purposely chosen one recipe that is no-bake version. It was prepared using peanut butter instead of normal butter.. It is a real simple easy to remember recipe. Variations are many including the nuts and the type of breakfast cereals to be used. I have added some sunflower seeds to the cookies and I loved the crunchiness of both the nuts and the corn flakes.

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For those who do not have oven at home, this is one cookie that you can try.. Trust me, not only kids love the cookies, even adults like my wife love it very much .. lol.

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WHAT IS REQUIRED

Servings: About 24 cookies

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  • 45 –60 grams of corn flake 
  • 45 grams of peanut butter
  • 45 grams of castor sugar
  • 45 grams of honey or corn syrup
  • Some small paper cups

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STEPS OF PREPARATION

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  • In a non stick pan, melt the peanut butter, honey or syrup and castor sugar. Bring to boil under low heat. Let it simmer for 1-2 minutes until all the sugar dissolved. Off the heat, add in the corn flakes, stir until well mixed. While it is hot, put a teaspoon of corn flakes on the paper cups. Let it rest in the room temperature until it hardens. Once hardened, store in a air tight container.  (Note, if the cornflake is too big pieces, you can crush it into big pieces before using)

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CONCLUSION

The family have finished the whole bottle of cookies within one day. It is easy to prepare and rather addictive. If you are concern about the sweetness, you can either use more corn flakes or reduce the castor sugar by 10%. Remember that you can always add in some nuts to the recipes, be it walnut, sunflower seeds, pine seeds, almond or others..

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

This recipe was included in Page 24 and Page 25 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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Braised Peanuts (卤花生)

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INTRODUCTION

Today’s post is a simple post on braised peanuts .. Whether Teochew or not I am rather unsure but it was always in the menu of Bakuteh stores, Kuih Chap stores and pig organ soup stores…

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Before I start, I will like to take this opportunity to wish all my readers “A happy 2015 and may all your wishes comes true”..

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While I was shopping in the supermarket, I bought a bag of “fresh” peanuts imported from China. Prices was very reasonable but I am unsure how is the taste. I have therefore decided to cook this dish using fresh peanuts.

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Yes, the peanuts did not disappoint me. It is of a rather big grain and really sweet. In fact, I was surprised by the sweetness of the peanuts without any seasoning.  Therefore, this recipe starts with fresh peanuts but of course you can used package raw peanuts.

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I love these braised peanuts for its flavour and melt in the mouth texture. Depending on your preference, I like mine to be on a sweet side and I have added rock sugar to the braise broth..

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I have prepared these braised peanuts as part of my Teochew porridge meals. There is actually no much to write about as the recipe is very simple.. 

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WHAT IS REQUIRED

Servings: 5-6 adult servings

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  • 500 grams raw peanuts, shelled and cleaned.
  • 1 teaspoon of 5 spice powder
  • 2-3 tablespoons of dark soya sauce
  • 2 small pieces of rock sugar
  • 1 tablespoon corn starch (optional)

Optional ingredients if you use 5 spice powder

  • 3 cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2-3 star anises

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STEPS OF PREPARATION

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  • Put all the ingredients in a pressure cooker. Add enough water to cover the peanuts (about 1 cm above the peanuts). Pressure cook the peanut for 15minutes –30 minutes depending on your desired texture. I have cooked for about 20 minutes. If you like the peanut to be smoother, add the corn starch solution and cooked for another 5 minutes. For corn starch solution, add one tablespoon of corn starch to 3 tablespoons of water, stir well and add to the cooked peanut. For better tasting, let it rest a few hours before serving.

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CONCLUSION

This is a simple recipe and nothing to shout about. i have always thought that it is very difficult to braise the peanut until very soft. However, with the use of pressure cooker, it is fast and easy. Of course if you do not have the pressure cooker, you can always braised using a slow cooker or crockpot or rice cooker or over the stoves. The timing will vary but you have the options to check it as and when you like it..

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

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