The process of making Nonya Chang revisited…(Part II) (娘惹粽)

IMG_7064

 

IMG_4336 

 IMG_4176

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”).

IMG_7034


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.

IMG_7056


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:

IMG_4433

(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 biteable 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.

   IMG_4434 

(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 flavour.

(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)

IMG_4173

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)

IMG_4437

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

IMG_4438

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.

IMG_4367

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 colouring and it is optional. As far as I know, besides colouring 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 colour diffuse into the water and use these water to soak the rice before cooking. In my demonstration, I did not use these flowers.

IMG_4440

These are the pea flowers that I just pluck this morning and after submerging into the water for an hour, the colour 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 colour is slightly lighter. If you insist to have blue colour but do not have any pea flowers, then, use blue colouring.


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.

IMG_4105


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.

IMG_4175      

  • 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 colour penetrate into the rice.

IMG_4180

  • 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.

IMG_4181

  • 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

 

IMG_4358

  • 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.

IMG_4359

  • 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’ colour 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 colour 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.

IMG_4360

  • 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.

IMG_4464

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.

IMG_4465IMG_4460

  • 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.

IMG_4462IMG_4463

  • 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:

IMG_4384

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.

IMG_4466

 

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 colour 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.

IMG_7060


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.

IMG_7046

 

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.

IMG_7040


UPDATED ON 21 MAY 2014

Just wrapped 15 cups of rice, altogether about 45 dumpling. Pictures are new pictures taken.

IMG_7022


For more recipes, you can refer to my RECIPE INDEX (updated as at 21 March 2014)  here and you can follow me at PINTEREST or visit this blog’s FACEBOOK PAGE .  

group-board-picture72222222222222222[1]

If you are a Pinterest user and you are interested to have more recipes, you can join or follow this Pinterest Board set up by me  where there are more than 1800 recipes worldwide and pinned by various bloggers: FOOD BLOGGERS AND FOODIES UNITED PINTEREST BOARD.

You can also join the Food Bloggers and Foodies United Group Facebook Group to see more recipes. Currently there are about 7,900 members sharing various food photos . I would be more than happy if you can  post in the Group for the recipes that you tried from this Guaishushu’s blog.

 

IMG_7028

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

  IMG_43351

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

IMG_4176

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:

IMG_4433

(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.

   IMG_4434 

(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 flavour.

(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)

IMG_4173

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)

IMG_4437

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

IMG_4438

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.

IMG_4367

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.

IMG_4440

These are the pea flowers that I just pluck this morning and after submerging into the water for an hour, the colour 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 colour is slightly lighter. If you insist to have blue colour but do not have any pea flowers, then, use blue colouring.


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.

IMG_4105


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.

IMG_4175      

  • 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 colour penetrate into the rice.

IMG_4180

  • 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.

IMG_4181

  • 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  

IMG_4358

  • 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.

IMG_4359

  • 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’ colour 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 colour 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.

IMG_4360

  • 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.

IMG_4464

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.

IMG_4465

  • 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.

img_4460_thumb

  • 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.

IMG_4462

  • 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.

IMG_4178

  • 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:

IMG_4384

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.

IMG_4466

 

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 colour 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.


For more recipes, you can refer to my RECIPE INDEX  here and you can follow me at PINTEREST or visit this blog’s FACEBOOK PAGE .
 

Capture14222[2]

If you are a Interest user and you are interested to have more recipes, you can join or follow this Pinterest Board set up by me  where there are more than 250 recipes worldwide and pinned by various bloggers: FOOD BLOGGERS AND FOODIES UNITED PINTEREST BOARD

img_4466_thumb1

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

IMG_4336   IMG_4176

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:

IMG_4433

(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.

   IMG_4434 

(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)

IMG_4173

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)

IMG_4437

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

IMG_4438

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.

IMG_4367

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.

IMG_4440

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.

IMG_4105


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.

IMG_4175      

  • 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.

IMG_4180

  • 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.

IMG_4181

  • 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

 

IMG_4358

  • 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.

IMG_4359

  • 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.

IMG_4360

  • 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.

IMG_4464

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.

IMG_4465IMG_4460

  • 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.

IMG_4462IMG_4463

  • 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:

IMG_4384

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.

IMG_4466

 

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.

Hi, Let Start Cooking the Laksa …. An In Depth Analysis and Pictorial Procedural Description Of The Famous Sarawak Laksa (Part III)

PART III   COOKING THE SARAWAK LAKSA

Image

Part I and Part II are rather “theoretical” and this post will show you the practical steps to prepare the Sarawak laksa.

To make a delicious bowl of Sarawak Laksa, besides having some good laksa paste that I mentioned in Part II, there are few important things that you should note in your course of preparation. The process of preparation is rather laborious and I will list out the steps and unlike other posts, you should consider follow the order of steps here to save your time of preparation..


WHAT YOU NEED?

In this post, the units or quantities listed out here is for about 15 bowls of laksa and you should reduce it accordingly after taking into considerations the number of persons and personal preferences.

IMG_2955

  • Fresh Prawns or Shrimps (1kg)
  • Chicken Breast (0.75kg)
  • Coconut milk (500g)

For coconut milk, you can use fresh or packet coconut milk. If you like it more milky (lemak), you can add in more coconut milk. If you are health conscious, either substitute it with evaporated milk or don’t add any milk at all. Have you ever heard that this delicacy is a “cardiologists nightmare”?

IMG_3152

  • Thin Rice Vermicelli – 1 kg (about 2.5 packets commonly sold in the markets)
  • Home-made laksa paste or ready-made laksa paste  – 1.5 kg (2-3 big packets commonly sold in the markets)

Do you know that to qualify a dish as laksa, the noodles must be either thick or thin rice vermicelli in it? Curry Mee is not a laksa as per definition of laksa here. At home, we do eat it with instant egg noodles ..Smile

IMG_2957

  • Calamansi (about 20-30 pieces)
  • Some Sambal Belachan
  • Bean Sprouts
  • Coriander leaves and Chinese celery chopped into small pieces

One of the most important condiments in this dish is Sambal Belachan, a type of condiments made from shrimp paste. You can know more about belachan here. That is why sometime Sarawak Laksa is called Sarawak Sambal Laksa. I have buy the over-the-counter sambal belachan in Singapore and the taste just blends especially well with the soup.

If you have kids at home and they do not take spicy food, actually, when making the Laksa Paste, you can ignored chilli as an ingredients. So the laksa broth or soup that you cooked will not be spicy and you can let your kids have this. When you are eating on your own, just have one big scope of Sambal Belachan in it, the taste will be similar with those paste that have chilli in it..

MAY BE I SHOULD CONSIDER MAKING  LAKSA PASTE FOR SALES TO CHILDREN OR SILVER AGE MARKET.   THEORITICALLY, SARAWAK LAKSA WITHOUT COCONUT MILK AND TOO MUCH OIL SHOULD BE CONSIDER AS A HEALTH FOOD SINCE IT IS FULL OF SPICES AND HERBS…Smile

The coriander leaves that you see in my picture is the type sold in Singapore and West Malaysia. Traditionally, in Kuching, Sarawak, coriander “seedlings” were used. However, it is harder to get it nowadays. In my old days, as one of my brothers do not like the strong smells of coriander leaves, we use Chinese celery instead. Until today, I still have the habit of mixing these two leaves as a garnish for the laksa.


THE COOKING BEGINS…

If you don’t want to add seasonings like “axinomoxo”, then try to follow these steps as it will save you time and seasonings! Joking.

Step 1 – Blanching the Chicken Breast

IMG_2959

  • Clean your chicken breast, boil your water and put in the chicken breast. The minimum amount of water required will be at least to cover the chicken breast. But you can use more water as it will be used later.
  • Use medium heat and boil for about 20 minutes until cooked. Don’t cook too long because you breast will be juicy as all the juice will be in the soup.
  • Traditionally, in Kuching, chicken breasts were used because it is easier to hand shred and with less bones. However, you can also use the whole chicken. If this is the case, you have to use high heat to bring the water to  boil, submerged your chicken and simmer for 30 minutes. Once cooked, dip in ice cold water. You can refer to my post on chicken rice here.
  • Hand shred your chicken breast  and set aside for use.
  • Remember to keep your “chicken stock” for future use.

Step 2 – Blanching the prawns

IMG_2972

  • Clean the prawns. Blanch the prawns with the chicken stocks in Step 1.
  • Personally, I prefer to blanch the prawns with shells at it will keep all the juices. If you shell the prawns, the blanch prawns will be less tasty.
  • This process will take only about 5 minutes. Sieve the prawns and set aside the “prawns and chicken stock”.
  • As long as the prawns are cool, shelled the prawns and devein it. If you found that the prawns are dirty after you devein it, use some cooked water to clean it.
  • DON’T THROW AWAY THE SHELL, keep it for next use.

Step 3 – Making of additional Prawn Stocks

IMG_3170

  • In another pot, put in some more water and boil the prawn shells until the color starts to turn whitish. If you don’t need that much of soup, continue using the stock from Step 2 to cook the prawn shells.
  • The stock in the first picture is the prawn + chicken stock as mentioned in Step 2 (from blanching of chicken breast and the fresh prawns).
  • The stock in the third picture is the prawn stocks from boiling the prawn shells;
  • Look at the color of the stock, the milky color means that the soup is very concentrated and you can just take a spoon and taste it. It will be very delicious. A side note, if you are not cooking Sarawak Laksa, when you shelled the prawns, just keep it in the fridge until a sizeable amount, then use this step to cook the prawn stock, then you can use this stock to cook the Hokkien Prawn Mee or Penang Prawn Mee!
  • If you are concerned about the chicken oil and if you have time. Put in the fridge and let the oil solidify, just throw the oil away.

Steps 4 – Cooking the Laksa Soup

IMG_2984

  • Put the home made laksa paste into the stock from Step 2 and 3. Bring to boil, add in coconut milk and other condiments. Off the fire immediately when it start to boil again. Otherwise, the coconut milk will turn into coconut oil and your laksa broth will be spoilt.
  • Remember that if you are afraid of having high cholesterol, use evaporated milk instead. How much coconut milk to add is very much depends on your personal preference. I remember when I was young, my parents sometime cook laksa without coconut milk….
  • Besides adding salt as a condiments, I have the habit of putting fish sauce instead.
  • Note that the color of my laksa broth is very bright because I use only fresh red chilli. If I used dry chilli, the color will be darker.
  • Cooking laksa will definitely yields quite a lot of oils. Just scope it away before you use the broth.  Like chicken stock, you can put in the fridge for 2-3 hours, let the red oil solidify and throw that away. Heat up and serve. In that case your stock will look quite dull (brownish in color).

Step 5 – Making the Egg Omelets

IMG_2958

  • Break the eggs, put a few drops of cooking oil, use fork or chop stick to slightly beat it until all the yolks and the whites are completely mixed.
  • Have a hot pan, pour some egg mixture into the pan. Either use a spatula to spread them evenly. You can also do this by twisting your pan slight in a circular motion.
  • As soon as the egg mixture is firm in the bottom and you can smell the fragrance of fried eggs, just scope up the omelets, let it cool and shred in fine long pieces.
  • Note that if you are using a non stick frying pan, there is no need for you to use oil for frying as long as your pan is very clean and free from any food particles. You can also add a few drops of oil to the egg mixture before you pan fried them.
  • THIS STEP CAN BE PERFORMED IN BETWEEN ANY STEPS BETWEEN STEP 1 AND STEP 4

Step 6 – Blanching The Bean Sprouts and Rice Vermicelli

IMG_2974

  • In a frying pan, fill in some water and drip a few drops of cooking oil. Bring to boil, blanch the bean sprouts (approximately 5 minutes). Sieve the bean sprouts, set aside for later use.
  • Use the same water to blanch the rice vermicelli. That will take about 10-15 minutes depending how soft you want it to be. The process can be shortened if you have soaked the uncooked rice vermicelli before hand.
  • Once you  sieved the rice vermicelli, quickly put it under running tap water (or if you don’t like to drink from tap water, use some cold boiled water) for about 2 minutes.The purpose of this step is to ensure that you have some springy rice vermicelli instead of soggy rice vermicelli that stick together.
  • The few drops of oil also have the role of ensuring that the rice vermicelli would not stick together. In addition, that small amount of oil will help you to “preserve” the color of your bean sprouts. It will look fresher instead of cook.
  • If you cannot stand the tails of the bean sprouts, you can hand picked the tails before you blanched them. For me, I usually hand picked the tails but when I run of times, I will just eat with the tails!!

  • This step is best carry out before you serve the guest.

Step 7 – Assembling and Garnishing

IMG_3175

  • After a few hours of ordeal, you should start to “regret” making this dish!  Lets have a quick recap of all the ingredients before serving.
IMG_27161
  • You should have blanched rice vermicelli, blanched bean sprouts, chopped coriander leaves and Chinese celery, cooked Sarawak Laksa broth, blanched prawns, shredded chicken breasts, stripped egg omelets, calamansi and sambal belachan.
IMG_27231
  • Take a bowl and assemble the ingredients following the sequence as in the picture (from left to right then to second row…) This, I believe will be the best presentation of your Laksa Sarawak. While the rice vermicelli have submerge in the soup, your prawns and the color egg stripes are sitting happily on top of you reddish gravy, Do you think it is appetizing.

 

IMG_3176


CONCLUSIONS

  • In Part 1, the definition of Sarawak Laksa, its uniqueness and the popularity have been discussed HERE.
  • Part 2 dwelled into the details of making the Sarawak Laksa Paste with a list of all major raw ingredients, its procedures and a comparison analysis between recipes. Please refer HERE.
  • Part 3 detailed how Sarawak Laksa should be prepared.
  • Hopefully, this will benefit those who are keen to learn more about Sarawak Laksa and for those who are overseas, as all these spices are mostly imported from Middle Eastern countries, you can start making the paste using the powder form purchased from Indian stores. In that case, you will not worry about the kitchen equipment required, how to cook and grind the raw materials, it will at least cut short half of your time. I believed that this is also what our manufacturers in Sarawak is doing.
  • This is a long post that dealt with lots of research, reading and testing. If you found that it is useful, please forward to your friends. I will be most happy to answer any queries they have. Any factual findings that are not accurate, please drop me a line to let me know.
  • Appreciate your time reading this series and ENJOY YOUR HOME MADE SARAWAK LAKSA…  

IMG_27251

For more recipes, you can refer to my RECIPE INDEX  here and you can follow me at PINTEREST or visit this blog’s FACEBOOK PAGE .

Capture14222[2]

 

If you are a Interest user and you are interested to have more recipes, you can join or follow this Pinterest Board set up by me  where there are more than 250 recipes worldwide and pinned by various bloggers: FOOD BLOGGERS AND FOODIES UNITED PINTEREST BOARD

IMG_27271

Hey, I have invented my own Sarawak Laksa Paste Recipe !!!……… An In Depth Analysis and Pictorial Procedural Description Of The Famous Sarawak Laksa (PART II)

IMG_2879

PART II – THE SECRET OF SARAWAK LAKSA PASTE

INTRODUCTION

Most Sarawakian households cooked their laksa from ready-made laksa pastes made popular by the Tan’s Family in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Most people will not even bother to question how these pastes were made as the prices were reasonable and it can be easily purchased in major shops of Kuching, Besides, people were told that it is hard to home-made the laksa paste as it is laborious, time-consuming and a great number of ingredients were needed. In an article by Bernama New Agency dated 20 March 2006 (“LAKSA SARAWAK PASTE SET TO GO GLOBAL”), it was written

“…...Refusing to disclose his recipe, Tan (refer to Mr. Barrette Tan, the son of the Late Tan Yong Him) said the original paste to make Sarawak Laksa comprised of a mixture of 20 herbs and spices needed to blend well with the noodles”

WHY MAKING MY OWN PASTE…

Guai Shu Shu was invited to a gathering of about 15 old classmates residing in Singapore and Southern Peninsular Malaysia and Guai Shu Shu promised them that he will cook laksa for the gathering but did not check the stock of his laksa pastes. In his mind, he still remembers that he had two 600 g packs of laksa pastes in the kitchen shelf. The night before the gathering, Guai Shu Shu discovered that he only had a pack of 300g laksa paste. That obviously is inadequate to serve 15 people and they have put high expectations on the laksa since they have not eaten laksas for a long time. Not to disappoint these old “comrades”, Guai Shu Shu decided to make his own laksa paste and the search begins…

At around 6.00 a.m. the day of gathering, Guai Shu Shu was browsing the internet searching for a recipe of Sarawak Laksa paste. He is delighted to have found Recipe A and Recipe B (will explain in detail towards the end of the post). Based on these two recipes, Guai Shu Shu head towards Geylang Serai Market in Singapore to purchase the necessary ingredients.

FUNTIME AT GEYLANG SERAI

Guai Shu Shu stopped by a store owned by one rather friendly Indian Muslim woman and told her that he wanted various types of spice powders. He asked her for a piece of paper and jotted down a list of all the ingredients in the recipe’s original units and he asked the woman to give him the powder equivalent of these raw ingredients.

To my surprise, she was also not sure of such equivalents. (For example, the powder equivalent of 2 cm of fresh galangal). After she glanced through his list, she took out some small plastic bags and asked him to decide himself how much powder he wanted. She would ask, “SGD 50 cents of galangal powder, enough for you? You want more? SGD1 is like this much?”. Guai Shu Shu knew that he had no choice but to decide for himself. Therefore, since nobody knew the equivalent units, he made the decision not to follow the recipe exactly. Based on his understanding of spices, he bought about 10 spices ranging from SGD50 cents-SGD2 each. When he told her that he wanted SGD50cents of clove powder, she looked at him and said, “Encik, clover powder is very expensive, SGD50cents is around 1 teaspoon only!!!” She is kind enough to label for him all the powders he bought. When the list was completed, Guai Shu Shu started to go through with the woman the other type of powders in the containers that is not in his first lists, and he ended buying almost all the powders that she sold except turmeric powder (actually, this is the yellowish curry powder that differentiates Sarawak Laksa from curry laksa).

He really enjoyed the process of buying the spices, the woman is helpful and most of important of all, he never knew that there were such things as lemon grass powders, galangal powders, lemon grass powders… and not to mention belachan powder readily available in the market. All the recipes in the internet will only state units like cloves of garlic, pieces of dry chilli, number of candle nuts, cm of belachan and etc. He had cut short his preparation process by using the raw ingredients in its powder form. This had saved him a lot of time. The only thing that she don’t have was the shallot powder and Guai Shu Shu have had prepared his own shallot paste by pounding the fresh shallots.

IMG_2816

After marketing all the necessary ingredients, Guai Shu Shu told his wife (who is also a Sarawakian) that he wanted to make his own laksa paste, she looked at him at disbelief and just said to him, “You better don’t “main-main”(Malay word of play)!” meaning she did not trust him and what would happen if he was not successful! Since Guai Shu Shu had bought all the ingredients,he was determined wanting to make the paste, otherwise the ingredients would be of no use to him.

WHAT HE BOUGHT EVENTUALLY…….

The following are the ingredients that Guai Shu Shu have bought. The picture on the right of each picture is the raw ingredients for the reader’s reference. As neither the sales lady nor Guai Shu Shu actually measured the ingredients, these quantities are estimated quantities based on his memories and will serve as references. A more meaningful comparison will be the ratios of each ingredient and an analysis will be done to reconfirm the ratios of the ingredients.

IMG_3085 ~200 g of galangal powder~ 25 g of white pepper powder
IMG_3083 ~100 g of candlenut powder~100 g of belachan powder
IMG_3094 ~5 g of cumins powder~5 g of fennel powder
IMG_3084 ~150g of lemon grass powder~5g of clove powder
IMG_3086 ~10 g of nutmeg powder~100 g of coriander powder
IMG_3082 ~300 g of garlic ginger paste~300 g of shallot paste
IMG_3081 ~150 g of fresh chilli paste~ 100g of tamarind paste
IMG_3106 ~ 150 g of peanut powder~ Salt to taste

~ 100 g of white sugar

~300-400 g of cooking oil

Overall, there are about 19 raw ingredients comprising about 1.0kg of dry powders and 850g of wet ingredients, Actually, this pretty closed to the 20 ingredients that Tan had mentioned above and there are a few items that were not included in my recipe above. These were star anise powder and cardamom powder. Therefore, this recipe should be pretty closed to Tan’s family recipe.

Overall, the gross uncooked paste weighs around 2 kg (inclusive of cooking oils)

THE GAMES BEGAN – MIXING THE DRY INGREDIENTS….

IMG_2978

Pour the ginger and garlic paste into a big mixing bowl followed by the remaining wet ingredients, namely shallot paste, chilli paste and tamarind paste.

Put all the dry ingredients on top of the wet ingredients (2nd picture);

Start mixing the ingredients and make sure that all the ingredients were well mixed.

If you find that the mixture is too dry, add in some plain water until the final mixture resemble a paste as in the 4th picture.

Once the color of the ingredients is consistent, the paste is ready for the next step.

COOKING THE PASTE

IMG_3095

Put the cooking oil in the wok and heat it using small to medium fire. You can begin by using half of the oil and add gradually when you realized that the ingredients are too dry and hard to fry (see below);

Initially, the raw ingredients are reddish in color before frying and the oils are very clear. Once you start frying, you will notice the ingredients start to absorb the oils. As long as you can still fry it smoothly, there is no need to add in more oil. Watch out for the heat used,  the heat used should be medium heat and not high heat. Your mixture will get burnt even before it is cooked;

The third picture was after 1o minutes of frying. Note the oil color had changed to orange  and the paste had started to change its color too. By this time, you should begin to smell the aroma from some cooked spices..

Cook for at least another 20 minutes or until the ingredients begin to separate from the oil. When the temperature is high, the moisture contents in the paste will boil and evaporated. Therefore, as you are using the same amount of oil to cook the dry ingredients, the excess oil will start seeping out of the mixture when there were less and less moisture.

When the color started to turn brownish, add in the sugar, salt to taste and peanut powder. Note that you may not be able to correctly add in the right quantity of salt at this point the time, but that is perfectly okay because you can adjust it when you cooked the laksa soup. However, for sugar, the role is not really to act as condiment but more to “color” the paste to the dark brownish colors. As Guai Shu Shu have used fresh chilli, the color of his pastes were rather bright. Most recipes use dry chili and if you used dry chilli, the color will be darker and you can see chili flakes in your pastes.

Fried for about 5-10 minutes until all you sugar start have melted and caramelized. Off the fire and if possible, let it stand for a night before cooking it. The fragrance will be stronger and more oils will be excreted.

It took at least 45 minutes to properly cook this paste.

MY FINAL PRODUCTS AND A BRIEF ANALYSIS..

IMG_3107 IMG_3108

On the left was final laksa paste that Guai Shu Shu have made and on the right was the laksa gravy cooked with his home-made paste . He had objectively compared his paste with the ready-made paste and have the following findings:

Texture – The ready-made paste was much softer with more liquid in it. All the ingredients were very fine. His version was slightly harder but once it was boiled in the soup it dissolved in the soup. The harder texture of his paste was attributed to higher heat used to cook the ingredients initially. Once they lost the moisture content too fast, they will start to form small chunks. Therefore, the heat should not be too high and it takes patience to do this. As this is the first time he cooked this manually, the consistency will definitely cannot be compared with those pastes made by the machines.

Fragrance – He concluded that the taste was quite close to the ready-made paste and he gave himself about 80/100. His classmates who have eaten the laksa have no major complaints about the taste. Of course, the taste can be further improved by trial and error like what Tan’s family have done initially.

THE SEARCH CONTINUES – LAKSA PASTE RECIPE IN THE INTERNET

On the day following his gathering, he continued to search for Sarawak Laksa paste in the internet and jotted down the ingredients of each recipe. In fact, there were not many recipes over the net and goggling “Sarawak Laksa paste recipe” shows only 1,250 results and most of them were not actually recipes but users asking for the recipe. However, he had managed to to get hold of about 6 recipes, and the most complete recipe should be the recipe published by 3hungrytummies in November 2011 with the title “Secret of Sarawak Laksa Paste Revealed” (Note: this is Recipe A that I have mentioned at the beginning of the post”). Surprisingly, this recipe was published by 3 guys residing in Melbourne and testing out the paste overseas. Is it possible that because they could not get the ready-made paste, they have to depend on their own to make their paste. They were diligently enough using all the raw ingredients but Guai Shu Shu have opted to use ingredients in its intermediary form mostly powder and paste.

Guai Shu Shu is determined to find out what constitute the unique flavors of Sarawak Laksa and he used excel spreadsheet to perform an analysis of all the recipes that he obtained from the internet. The summary were tabulated as follows:

A

B

C

D

E

F

GSS

Shallots

x

x

x

x

x

x

x

Garlics

x

x

x

x

x

x

x

Onion

x

x

Galangal

x

x

x

x

x

X

Dried Chillies

x

x

x

x

x

x

X

Red chillies

x

x

x

X

Lemon Grass

x

x

x

x

x

X

Tamarind

X

x

X

Candlenuts

X

x

x

x

x

X

Cumin Seeds

x

X

Fennel seeds

X

X

Coriander seeds

x

X

X

Star Anise

X

Cloves

X

X

Nutmeg

X

X

Cardamoms

X

X

Cinnamon

x

x

Sesame seeds

X

Belachan

x

x

x

x

X

Dried Shrimps

X

Peanuts

x

X

Sugar

X

X

Salt

X

X

Source:

A:

http://3hungrytummies.blogspot.sg

B:

http://allrecipes.asia/recipe/1987/laksa-sarawak.aspx

C:

http://www.pickles-and-spices.com

D:

http://almaraz97.blogspot.sg/2012/02/laksa-sarawak-sambal-udang-kering.html

E:

http://koleksiresipi.blogspot.sg/2004/11/laksa-sarawak-dan-sambal-udang-kering.html

F:

http://www.bukisa.com/articles/78517_laksa-sarawak

GSS:

Guai Shu Shu recipe
CONCLUSIONS
Based on the above brief analysis,Guai Shu Su is of the opinion that:

  • The must-have ingredients for the laksa paste are shallots, garlics, candlenuts, galangal, lemon grass and corainder seeds.
  • The ratio of galangal to shallots should be about 1:1;
  • Coriander powder, garlic, candlenuts and lemon grass are equally important and the ratio should be at least half of the galangal or shallots volume;
  • All the spices should be used in moderation about 1/20 of the volume of galangal. These are not absolutely necessarysince many recipes do not use them;
  • The statement that “Sarawak Laksa Paste required more than 20 herbs and spices to produce” is valid and acceptable.
  • It can be rather time-consuming to make the paste specifically in the process of frying/cooking where only low to medium heat can be used to cook the paste. In addition, assembly of  all the ingredients can also be a tedious process.

Guai Shu Shu will continue to test his own laksa recipe. In the event that they are new findings, it will definitely be shared with readers. It is hoped that readers can also try the above recipe and feedback to me.

The final post of this short series will focus on the preparation of Sarawak Laksa.

Happy reading.

Hey, My Laksa Secret Recipe Was Stolen!!!……… An In Depth Analysis and Pictorial Procedural Description Of The Famous Sarawak Laksa (PART I)

IMG_2954

INTRODUCTION

Like any other Sarawakians, I am proud of our own version of laksa, Sarawak Laksa. It will not do Sarawak Laksa any justice if I did not do  a detail post on Sarawak Laksa. In fact, Sarawak laksa have gained popularity over the years and its importance cannot be ignored. Goggling “Sarawak Laksa” will yield 243,000 results where goggling “Assam Laksa” and “Curry Laksa” will only yield 143,000 and 158,000 results respectively.

Sarawakians believed that Sarawak Laksa is unique and cannot be compared with any other laksas in the regions. Sarawakian living in Sarawak can have laksas for almost any meals (be it breakfasts, lunches, dinners or suppers) where Sarawkian residing overseas are thinking dearly of their laksas in hometown. Their luggage will never lack of one or two packets of ready-made laksa paste for bringing over to their country of residence overseas. It is a treasure to them and only cooked in special occasions to entertain guests as a showcase that Sarawak laksas are distinctively better than any other laksas in the world!

Traditionally, laksa paste ingredients have been considered as family secrets belonging to a few families in Kuching, Sarawak. During my parent’s time, it was the “Swallow” brand of paste that we recognized as laksa. However, due to the discontinuation of “Swallow” brand, I have bought countless brands of laksa paste with various types  of “birds” logos. But none was closed to what I have eaten when I was young. May be this is one of the reasons that foodies in Kuching are always arguing who have the best laksa in Kuching and in Sarawak. Of course, who had the best laksa will always a matter of personal preference and the differences always lies in the ratios of the species used.

This series is rather long will both be “theoretical” and “practical” and comprise 3 posts as follows:

  • Part 1 – Sarawak Laksa and Its Origin
  • Part 2 – The Secret of Sarawak Laksa Paste
  • Part 3 – The Detail Preparation of Sarawak laksa

It is hoped that readers will bear with me for this long post. In my humble opinion, posting on how to cook the Sarawak Laksa using over-the-counter laksa paste purchased is of no value added to this blog and wasting readers’ time. Readers can find these preparation procedures all over the internet and in fact, at the back of the laksa paste label, there are clear instructions on how to cook the Sarawak laksa.


IMG_3054      IMG_3053

LAKSA AND SARAWAK LAKSA DEFINED……

Laksa is a popular spicy noodle soup from the Peranakan culture, which is a merger of Chinese and Malay elements found in Malaysia and Singapore, and Indonesia.

Sarawak laksa (Malay: Laksa Sarawak) comes from the Malaysian state Sarawak, on the island of Borneo. It is actually very different from the curry laksa as the soup contains no curry at all. It has a base of Sambal belacan, sour tamarind, garlic, galangal, lemon grass and coconut milk, topped with omelets strips, chicken strips, prawns, fresh coriander and optionally lime. Ingredients such as bean sprouts, (sliced) fried tofu or other seafood are not traditional but are sometimes added. “

(Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laksa)

Many blogs and websites may have using the above quotes to define Sarawak Laksa as there were not many information pertaining to the definition of Sarawak Laksa. In Wikipedia.com, Sarawak Laksa belongs to one of the variants of two main laksa categories as follows:

  • Curry Laksa (coconut milk based gravy comprises curry laksa, laksa lemak, laksam, Katong Laksa)
  • Assam Laksa (tamarind based gravy comprises Penang Laksa, Perlis Laksa, Kedah Laksa, Ipoh Laksa, Kuala Kangsar Laksa,

Other variants of laksas (used both coconut milks and tamarind in its gravy), besides Sarawak Laksa, will include Johor Laksa, Kelatan Laksa, Bogor Laksa, Palembang Laksa, Banjar Laksa.

ORIGINS OF LAKSA AND SARAWAK LAKSA

Per Wikipedia, laksa origin is unclear. However, it is strongly believed to be closely related to the Hindi/Persian “Lakshah” referring to a type of vermicelli which in turns derived from the word Sanskrit lakshas meaning one hundred thousand. In Indonesian Malay, laksa refers to “sepuluh ribu” or 10,000 signifying many strands of fine white vermicelli noodles in the dish.

The origins of Sarawak laksa is equally unclear and there were no literature  that clearly confirmed its origin. However, it is widely agreed the popularity of Sarawak Sambal Laksa pastes were popularized by the Tan Family in Kuching in the 1960-1970’s.

In the article “Tasty State Secret” written by Paul Si of “thestar.com.my”, origins of Sarawak laksa paste can be traced back to the time when the late Mr. Tan Yong Him started experimenting his own concoctions of herbs and spices in the early 1960’s and packaged his laksa paste for sale under the “swallow brand”. The paste started to gain popularity in the 1970’s when economy picking up and people started to frequent eating outlets. Stall owners in the hawker centers and coffee shops were able to use the over-the-counter laksa paste and cook the laksa for sale and household can buy the paste and cooked the laksa at home. (Note:  the swallow brand had discontinued due to family differences in opinion and I understand the Barrett Brand belongs to one the late Tan’s sons and you  can now buy the Sarawak Sambal Laksa paste on-line via www.laksasarawak.com).

While the above paragraph provided a brief history accounting for the popularity of Sarawak Laksa and its unique flavors due to Tan’s hard work and own concoction of Laksa paste, but why Tan had had these ideas to start of his trial and error spice puzzles remained unclear. The same article mentioned that “old timers recalled that people did not eat out much in the leans years follow World War II so first memories of eating laksa at a coffee shop were set in the late 1950’s”.  So questions that still ponder in my mind would be were there any laksa being sold prior to 1950’s; if it was not popular eating out then, was there any home cooked laksa? Is the laksa paste ingredients consistent among households? Is it dominated by only one race? At the time of writing this, I could not locate any literatures to offer the answers. If answers to these questions were negative, then, the honor of popularizing  Sarawak Laksa would have to be accorded to the Tan Family.

CONCLUSION

From the above write up, the following preliminary conclusions can be drawn.

Laksa in short can be defined as a bowlful of rice vermicelli, under the influence of Malay, Chinese or Peranakan Cooking that have a unique soup based with either coconut milk or tamarind as the main ingredients. It should be noted laksa should only use thick of thin rice vermicelli and in accordance to this definition, “curry mees” or “curry noodles” do not fall under the category of laksa.

In the Malay Archipelagos stretching from Burma to Indonesia, most regions have their own versions of laksas of either curry based or tamarind based or a mixture of both. Therefore, it will not be a surprise at all if the region of Sarawak also have their own variants. As like laksas in general, Sarawak Laksa’s origin is unclear and it is possible that prior to World War II, the laksa in Sarawak could be the same as other regions in the Malay Archipelago.  However, the present unique flavors of Sarawak Laksa and its popularity among the Sarawak was very much due the entrepreneurial spirit and diligence of the late Tan Yong Him’s. The fact that Sarawak Laksa is widely accepted among the Sarawak Chinese Community could be another piece of evidence of Tan’s contribution.

In the next post, I will detail out an analysis of Sarawak Laksa Paste ingredients as compared to Guai Shu Shu’s version.

HAPPY READING and I am most happy to receive more information on the history and origins of Sarawak Laksa for this pride Sarawak “state” delicacies.

Who Said Bread Puddings Must Be Prepared As Such…..Bread Puddings “Reinvented”

 

IMG_2736      

THE “GUAI” IDEAS…

Guai Shu Shu is a “Shu Shu” that is Guai (literally translated to an uncle that has a bewildered behavior or behaved in an odd or even abnormal manner). Yes, Guai Shu Shu never contented with the present state of his surroundings; he like to explore; he like to change and he likes to mix and match. In his mind, he is thinking: “what would happen if chocolates were added to breads; breads were added to eggs; eggs were added to cakes; cakes were mixed with milk; milk were mixed with banana; banana were mixed with sugars, sugars were mixed with scones, scones mixed with donuts…………..etc. etc.. etc.”

After dinner, he took out a mixing bowl and a baking tin, he wasted no time wanted to experiment and confirm his new mix and match ideas. He started to  bake this “modified version” of egg puddings or bread puddings or chocolate puddings???? He knows for sure that if no actions were taken to address these idle “chocolates, breads and bananas” in the kitchen, they would soon be “kicked” out of the house…

 

BREAD PUDDINGS “DEFINED”….

As is consistent with my Food Preparation Series and Creative Food Series,  I will have some quotes from “Wikipedia” with regards to the food items that I am going to post. I believed that readers should have a better knowledge on the topics instead of just “whole heartedly” follow what I mentioned in the post.

“Bread pudding is a bread-based dessert popular in many countries’ cuisine, including that of Cuba, Ireland, Great Britain, France, Belgium,Puerto Rico, Mexico, Malta, Argentina, Louisiana Creole, Germany, and the southern United States. In other languages, its name is a translation of “bread pudding” or even just “pudding”, for example “pudín” or “budín” in Spanish; also in Spanish another name is “migas” (crumbs). In Mexico, there is a similar dish, capirotada.

There is no fixed recipe, but it is usually made using stale (usually left-over) bread, and some combination of ingredients like milk, egg, suet, sugar or syrup, dried fruit, and spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, mace or vanilla. The bread is soaked in the liquids, mixed with the other ingredients, and baked.

It may be served with a sweet sauce of some sort, such as whiskey sauce, rum sauce, or caramel sauce, but is typically sprinkled with sugar and eaten warm in squares or slices. In Canada it is often made with maple syrup. In Malaysia, bread pudding is eaten with custard sauce. In Hong Kong, bread pudding is usually served with vanilla cream dressing. In Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Germany, black bread is used to make “black bread pudding” (Schwarzbrot pudding). In Hungary it is called ‘Máglyarakás’ which is baked with whipped egg whites on top of it.

(Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bread_pudding)

 

RECIPE FOR BREAD PUDDINGS……? SUBSTITUTABLE?…

Besides understanding what is the output, it would be nice to spend a bit of time to understand the ingredients used and the rationale of using such ingredients. Understanding the role of the ingredients will help you to find suitable substitutes and exploring your own new recipes.. Theory is still important…

In the above quote, it is stated clearly that “THERE IS NO FIXED RECIPE” and usually made from… The important word is no fixed recipe. You can easily made substitutions to almost everything but the bread and eggs. Even then I have substitute the bread with some Chinese New Year Cookies and you can read it here.

The theory behind the proposed usage of bread and eggs are the need to have some glutens and liquids to hold the “mixture” in shape.. Any things that contain gluten are possibilities to explore. Gluten  is a protein in the flour that when combines with water will  produce an elastic and web like structure and if it is too technical, just think of it as wheat flour. For example, bread, scones, muffins, biscuits, breakfast cereals, donuts…..These are called “strengtheners”…..

However, baking flour alone will yield you nothing, you need liquids… Eggs are used because it is a perfect binding agent (meaning hold the flour together) and give you a nice aroma. Eggs here serves both as a role of “strengtheners and tenderizers”. Other liquids can be explore such as milk, melted fats (butters), waters.. Use your sense to mix and match and you will soon find an optimum combination that you and your family like. But remember “Garbage in garbage out”, if you want a simple taste, white breads will do. If you want other flavors, you can have cinnamon rolls, chocolate donuts etc. and it would not do you any harm as long as the ingredients are still edible and you like the tastes.

 

WHY STALE BREADS ARE USED

Looking at the Wikipedia quote again. “……..and usually made from stale bread……” Stale breads are breads just a fraction of time away before fungi and mold finds its new home, meaning  breads that are not that fresh, textures have slightly change, in your house already a few days but before it turns moldy…The “inventors” of bread puddings have found this wonderful combinations to hide away all the negative perceptions of these stale breads. They used eggs and milk and butters to enhance to taste and texture and making foodie would not able to resist a bite without knowing how it is prepared.

The definition of stale bread above should be expanded to include “the heels and pesky ends of your bread toast”, stale muffins, scones, cookies, buns etc. etc. etc. You can “collect” all these ingredients and put it in the fridge and once it reach a sizeable quantity, just made a bread budding and declared to your families that “For better future, we will implement cost savings measures, we have to be more budget conscious now. Lets have some stale breads for breakfast today..….” Be right back

 

WHAT I USED

IMG_2740

  • I have some lindor chocolates, some meiji dark chocolates, and some chocolates from Lambertz in Germany. I have difficult to eat all these chocolates as some are either too bitter or extremely sweet …
  • I have half a loaf of French loaf already with me for about a week, You can see the bread crumbs all falling out when I cut it signifying that the bread was too dry;
  • Some stale breakfast loaf as a “foundation” for my puddings.  The sides have started to “shrink” meaning a lack of moisture and should be consumed as soon as possible.
  • Some bananas. Why bananas? I bought a bunch of banana and after a few days of eating, I still left with 4 pieces and fruit flies kept visiting them, I thought I might as well threw it in.

IMG_2738

  • Some fresh full cream milk – don’t worry if you don’t have this or if you are health conscious, just substitute with 100% fat free milk or even just make some milk using your kids milk powder, or soya bean milk. The role of milk is to moisten the dry ingredients and to make it creamy. Of course, there is a thread off between health food and mouth watering sinful cuisines. Yes, plain water can also be used;
  • Some sugar – depending on the “type” of “sweet tooth” you have, some sugars to sweeten it. Yes, I forgot to say, condensed milk or creamer is a perfect substitute.
  • Some eggs – better use this as it help to bind the mixture. Any substitutes… can try corn starch..(I substitute corn starch for my vegetarian pineapple tarts and it work perfectly well.)
  • Some melted fats – Margarine or butter or vegetable shortening?.. you choose yourselves. These are called “shorteners”. I want a buttery flavor and I have some margarines left in the fridge, so I melted some butters and margarines…

 

HOW MUCH, HOW MANY,……..

For some readers who are keen to try, I have used the following measurements for the liquid mixtures:

  • 6 whole eggs;
  • 4 cups of full cream milks;
  • 1.5 cups of sugars;
  • 1 cup of melted margarines and butters;

As for the dry ingredients:

  • half a French Loaf (small sized);
  • 4 pieces of stale breads (front and end)
  • One left over lemon icing scone;
  • One leftover chocolate donut;
  • About 20 pieces of candy chocolates;
  • 4 over ripe bananas.

Again and again, the above measurements are for your reference only. How much it actually required will depends on the ingredients that you used. Some of the bread are drier and you will need more liquids. Used your best estimates. Don’t worry, in the event that your liquid mixture is not adequate, poor in some more milk or water…

 

PREPARING YOUR LIQUID MIXTURES..

IMG_2739

In a mixing bowl, break your eggs, add sugars, milk, melted fats and used an egg beater to whisk the mixture until  well mixed and if possible, all the sugars dissolved. Of course, you can use an electric mixer to do the job. Set aside for later use.

 

LAYERING YOUR INGREDIENTS

IMG_2741 

Here come the process that I like most and it all depends on your own creativities.

  • First layer – four slices of breakfast loaf. Intentionally used them in this level because it will be easier for you to scope out the puddings and it wouldn’t break;
  • Second layer – chocolates that I can’t appreciate in its “present form”. Actually, these are all branded chocolates but have been sleeping in my fridge for quite a while;
  • Third Layer – French loaf cut into small chunks. I used a scissor to cut it and frankly, this is the first time to use a scissor to cut my breads and the satisfaction is extremely good seeing this small little white bread chunks;
  • Fourth Layer – Banana slices. Is it not beautiful?

IMG_2742

  • Fifth Layer – slices of lemon icing scone and chocolate donuts bought from Starbucks three days ago. I sprinkled some dried cranberries (it possible, soaked in hot water or rum) on top to make it look more appetizing.

 

“BATHING” THE INGREDIENTS…..

  • Pour your liquid mixtures into the layers of dry ingredients. Don’t rush, let it go and fill all the holes that they can find. Alternatively, you can soaked all the dry ingredients first and dump everything in the baking tin…Then, you would not have a nice layer in your final puddings.
  • I like to “poke” the dry ingredients. Once you poked, suddenly, all the liquids will disappear (try to think of a sponge). You will  be surprise to see how much liquids these breads can absorb. Poke and pour and poke and pour and poke and pour until you are satisfied that all the breads are full and cannot take in any more “drinks”.
  • I am cruel and I use a spoon to press them again and ensure that none of the breads are telling lies… You should feel that some of the ingredients started to “float” and pressing will not decrease the liquid quantities any more;

IMG_2743

  • Being “kiasu” or afraid to lose, I usually pour some more milk to sit on top of the mixtures and in another 10 minutes or so, it will disappear. Actually, the breads like human being, needs time to absorb the liquid…
  • Heat your oven’s to about 180 degree Celsius and bake for about 30 to 45 minutes or until set. Until set means when you push your baking tin, you are pushing a tin full of solid or semi solid instead of a tin of water. Imagine you are eating an egg tart or  bean curd jelly “tau hua”.
  • Temperature of the oven can also be adjusted. Only you know your oven well, if you find that your pudding is slightly burnt and yet to get set, lower the temperature. In this “experiment”, after 30 minutes, I have lowered my oven temperature to 150 degrees because the center of pudding is still not that firm and the top layer appeared to get burnt.
  • If you looked carefully, you will see that I am using “steam bake” method for the baking of the pudding. Steam bake means you put some water in the oven and let the water vapors generated to moisten your puddings. However, this is not absolutely a must if your liquids are enough.
  • After 40 minutes, my pudding is ready. Overall, it took about one and a half hour from preparing the ingredients until “full completion”.  Can you see the crispy top layer.
  • In the unlikely event that you don’t have any oven, don’t worry, just steam it. It will turn out as delicious except that you do not have the golden brown top layer.

 

PUDDINGS DISSECTIONS AND ANALYSIS……

IMG_2737

I only “cut” plus “scope” the puddings this morning. If you look carefully and go back to the layers that I have mentioned above, you will be able to identify the various in this “ugly” puddings.

Remember the second layer of chocolates? It was replaced by a light yellowish layer of egg puddings. When you bake, the chocolates will melt; if it is too hot, all the fats will be excreted leaving a layer of cocoa powder. When they are empty spaces, the eggs and milks will drip down to fill the cavities and become egg puddings. Actually, this is the layers that I like most. Soft and tasty and complement the hardier texture of all the other ingredients.

As I have used lemon icing scones, the top layers of the puddings have a rather strong lemon flavor, the middle layer have some chocolates that oozes out when you bite them and some sweet slice of ripe bananas. And that follows by a layer of hard to resist egg puddings…

 

SERVING

My wife have a bowl without anything added and this is my kid’s version:

IMG_2745

Yes, serve with some cold chocolate fresh milk. 

If you serve this as a dessert, you can serve with maple syrups, ICE CREAMS…..

 

UGLINESS…..

Lastly, my wife complained that the shape looks terrible when I put one scope into the bowl. I protested that bread puddings should look something like what I baked. Shapeless means it is soft and moist.. To defend my ground, let’s look at some of the pictures in the internet.

Austin Leslie’s Creole bread pudding with vanilla whiskey sauce, from the late Pampy’s Restaurant in New Orleans, Louisiana

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bread_pudding

  This capirotada, or Mexican bread pudding, features layers of nuts, cheese, dried fruit, and bread drizzled with cinnamon-infused sugar syrup.  

Source: http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/capirotada-mexican-bread-pudding

 

Amaretto Bread Puddings

Source: http://foodmuses.com/2009/12/14/amaretto-bread-pudding/

IMG_2753 Budget conscious cost saving puddings

Source:
http://kwgls.tumblr.com
https://instagram/kenwugls
https://twitter.com/kengls

This is a rather long post and I hope you like the post. Feel free to try your own versions and share with me about your own adventures.

Cheers.