What I Cooked Today Series (Special Post)- 2013 Mid Autumn Festival

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INTRODUCTION

I have not forgotten about this series –  “What I Cooked Today Series”! I have discontinued for a while because I am a vegetarian and the dishes were usually cooked by my mother in law who is visiting me. Therefore, I can’t claim the credit of the dishes cooked if I posted it.

Well this series will be starting soon in one two weeks time after end of my vegetarian diet. This year, I have calculated wrongly about the starting date of my diet, therefore, I am having slightly more than 2 months of vegetarian diet and it was pointed out by my neighbour when I keep on rejecting her meat dishes. She asked curiously why the diet is so long this year, she said it cannot be ! I asked my wife to recalculate again and yes, we are wrong as both of us are not that concern about anniversary dates.

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Yesterday is the Mid Autumn Festival, one of the very big festivals for the Chinese worldwide. Even People’s Republic of China’s government have declared this day as a holiday in recent years. Usually, in big festivals, family gathering and get together is very important.

I only confirmed to invite my nephew’s family for dinner yesterday morning and I told them that I would only cooked what I have at home. As they are my very close relatives, I need not really concerned about what I should cooked as he have been staying with me for the past few years. I did not have the time to plan for the meal as I have to take care of the kids and I have to rush out my report for Eight Treasure Porridge.

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I only started cooking at 4.00 pm in the afternoon. I looked at the fridge, I have some tofu, one pumpkin, one luffa, some chicken fillets, some asparaguses, minced meats, chicken thighs, drumsticks and fish fillets.

What influenced my dish menu last night was what I perceived what my family members like to have. I know anything soft and silky will be welcomed by them, so tofu and pumpkins would be good choices.

While the family always have bitter gourd with minced meat, but luffa with minced meat is something new to them. In addition, my kids loved luffa so luffa with minced meat was in the menu.

Preparing these two dishes had resulted some mesh pumpkins, minced meat and tofu left, therefore, I have decided to turn these 3 ingredients into  a dish.


PORK STUFFED LUFFA (丝瓜酿肉碎)

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This is a dish adapted from pork stuffed bitter gourd (苦瓜酿肉碎). The luffa was first de-skinned, and cut into 2 cm chunks. Make a hole in the centre and set aside. Minced pork were marinated for about 10 minutes with sesame oil, corn flour, light soya sauce, flavour enhancers, sugar, pepper, chopped coriander leaves and chopped winter vegetables. Stuff the minced pork into the hole of the luffa chunks, placed it in a serving plate nicely and put a goof berry on top of minced meat for garnishing. Before steaming, put some water in the plate of the meat stuffed luffa. (A bit of water is important as it will speed up the process of cooking the luffa. The luffa will be “water bathed” causing it easier to get cooked). Steamed for about 20 minutes or until your luffa is soft.  More juices will be secreted out and these gravy was very tasty as it was essentially a meat and vegetable broth.  You can put some corn starch to thicken this juices if desirable.

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TOFUS SAIL IN PUMPKIN SEA (豆腐金瓜海)

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I have to admit that I do not know how to name this dish. Since it looks like a seas of mashed pumpkins, I  named this as “tofu sail pumpkin seas”. Firstly, I cut opened a pumpkin, de-seeded and steamed the pumpkin until the pumpkin was soft. I then scratched out the pumpkin flesh, put some sesame oils, salt, mushroom concentrate, mixed well and let the mashed pumpkin to cool.

Two packets of tofu’s were cut into 8 pieces and arrange in a serving plate. I used a teaspoon to make a hole on the tofu, put some mashed pumpkins to cover the hole. Use the remaining pumpkin to put beside the tofu and steamed for about 10 minutes. Surprisingly, the tofu and pumpkins really blends well.

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MINCED PORK FRIED WITH MASHED PUMPKINS AND TOFUS (山寨蟹粉豆腐)

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From the above two dishes, I have some mashed pumpkin left , some tofu left (from making a hole in the tofu cubes), some minced meat left (as I have prepared one package of minced meat for the luffa dish, therefore, I still have about half of the minced meat left). With these 3 ingredients, I have decided to mash the tofu and fried these 3 ingredients together.

I first stir fried some spring onion (white part) in a frying pan of hot oil until aromatic, followed by the minced meat and once the meat was 50% cooked, add the mesh pumpkin and mesh tofu. Stir fried for another 2-3 minutes, add white pepper, sugar, light soya sauce and salt and it become a rather presentable dish..like the famous Shanghai dish, “Tofu With Hairy Crab Roe”. Therefore I have named this dish in Mandarin the “Fake Tofu With Hairy Crab Roe”.

The dish was very tasty and smooth, it is well liked by the kids because of the aromatic spring onions.  I have placed the cooked dish in the empty shell of the pumpkin for serving.

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BLANCHED ASPARAGUS WITH CHICKEN FILLETS (芦笋鸡柳)

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This is really an easy dish.

Asparagus were de-skinned (depends on whether it is too mature or not) and cut into same length. Chicken fillet were first cut into the desired sizes, marinated with sesame oil, pepper and light soya sauce for about 10 minutes,

Have a pot of boiling hot water, drizzle a few drops of cooking oil and pinches of salt. Get ready a serving plate and put some oyster sauce on the plate.  Blanched the asparagus in the hot boiling water for 3 minutes and dip in icy cold cooked water.

Place these asparagus neatly in the serving plate on top of the oyster sauce. Coated the chicken fillet with some corn flours and blanched the chicken fillets in the hot boiling water for about 5 minutes. Scoop out and placed on top of the blanched asparagus. Sprinkled some fried shallots on top of the chicken and the dish was done.

This was definitely an easy and healthier dish as it involved no frying like the traditional method. Though I did not taste the asparagus but I can tell you that it was sweet as all the juices were being sealed inside the asparagus via blanching method of cooking.

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CENTURY EGGS WITH PICKLED GINGER (皮蛋酸姜)

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This dish was usually treated an appetizer in Chinese full course dinners and did not really need any preparation. As I have quite a lot of pickled ginger left from my demonstration in Guaishushu’s Page, therefore, I have decided to prepare this dish as an appetizer. You may want to learn about how to prepare the pickled gingers HERE.


POMELO (柚子/文旦)

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When I was young, we did not celebrate Moon Cake Festivals with pomelo.

However, in recent years, it seemed that it is very common that pomelo became one of the festival fruit  during the  Moon Cake Festivals. I checked the internet, pomelo have the syllables as “have kids” (有子)in Mandarin, therefore, having pomelo means that it will bring you luck in conceiving a kid. Well, definitely not for me.

It is my usual way to de-skin my pomelo like what is in the picture to make it easier for my kids to eat. Therefore, all my kids loves to eat pomelo as they do not need to peel the internal white membranes separating the lobes in the fruit. They have been pampered, Unlike me, I never like to eat pomelo when I was young because of the difficulty to peel of the internal white membranes.


GREEN DATES (甜枣)

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This is nothing to do with this festival. I just spotted in the supermarket a few days ago and I really love these green dates. I always called it mini apples. In my humble opinion, it taste like apples and is a one bite size. I am able to finish one box within a day. I don’t know but I do believe it is a very healthy snack, much healthy than any carbohydrates and sugar loaded snacks. Yesterday, it was served together with pomelo after dinner.


MOONCAKES (月饼)

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I have a few boxes of moon cakes and I have decided to  serve a durian moon cake that my nephew gave me from the international “Three” Seasons Hotel.  However, I am rather disappointed with the moon cakes. Put in bluntly, it is just pure durian flesh wrapped in snow skin. When you eat the moon cakes, it is very soft and just like when one is eating fresh durian (though it don’t taste that fresh any more after so many days).

It was definitely not cheap and my nephew told me even after discount, one small moon cake cost SGD 12. I honestly believed that should I received the moon cake earlier, I will be able to replicate the moon cake  .. and how much is one durian is this season? May be 3 durians for SGD 10?  Well the one below is equally disappointing as they have incorporate orange flavour in the lotus seeds fillings.

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Lastly, I hoped that you like my cooking adventures today and unlike previous festivals, I have cooked something very simple. In other festivals, majority were meat dishes and I managed to locate an old picture in my Facebook to share with you. This was taken by one of my nieces in 2012 to celebrate Chap Goh Me (元宵)during Chinese New Year.

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Have a nice day and cheers.

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Vegetarian Pizza Is Just As Tasty ! Simple And Basic Vegetarian Pizza Preparation

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INTRODUCTION

I loved pizza. Pizza is one of the most common food that I ordered when I have meals in Western Restaurants. I love pizza for its dough and cheese. It is a comfort food that I can easily eat an 6 inches diameter pizza. However. I have never really ever prepare pizza since I start my baking 15 years ago. I am thinking that since I have made bread, cakes, muffins cupcakes etc., why don’t I make my own pizza?

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In my Facebook group : Food Bloggers and Foodies United, one of the bloggers Ms Ainy Wajahat from Pakistan have posted some pizza recipes and I promised here that I will bake some pizza. Therefore, I have based on her recipes to make the dough. For the toppings, since I am still on the vegetarian diet, I have used mostly vegetables found in my fridge.

Initially, I intended to make my own pasta sauce. Somehow, as I am too tired that afternoon, I rushed to a provision store nearby and bought a can of ready made pasta sauce. You can read the making of Pasta Sauce from fresh tomatoes HERE.

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Instead of preparing it  in the traditional round shape pizza, I have opted to make a rectangular shape pizza which is easier for me to bake and cut for later serving. I made the dough in the morning and intended to have the pizza for lunch, somehow, the family members decided to go out for lunch, therefore, I froze my dough in the fridge and only made the pizza during dinner time.

Making pizza is really simple and at times, I just wonder why shall I pay so much for pizzas that were sold in the eating outlets.

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WHAT IS REQUIRED

Dough – Recipe adapted from Ainy Cooks

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  • 500 grams plain flour

  • 30 grams butter (at room temperature) or olive oil or ghee or normal cooking oil

  • 300 ml of water

  • 1 egg

  • 1 teaspoon of salt

  • 1 tablespoon of instant yeast

Toppings

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  • Some Enoki mushrooms (cut into half)

  • Some fresh mutton mushrooms (shredded)

  • Some fresh sweet corns

  • Some green capsicums (shredded)

  • Some sausages (for my kids portion)

  • 1 tin of pasta sauce about –about 500 grams

  • Abundant of mozzarella cheeses or cheddar cheeses or goat cheese or other cheeses of your choice. 

The ingredients here are for reference only. You can add a whole range of your preferred vegetable such as tomatoes, pineapples, preserved olives, celeries and etc..

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STEPS OF PREPARATION

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  • In a big mixing bowl, place all materials except butter/ghee/cooking oil/olive oil and use a dough hook to mix until well mix. Add in butter and continue to beat until the dough is smooth. Let it proof for at least 1 hour or until the dough size double. Use a cling wrap or a wet towel to cover the top.

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  • Lightly grease a baking tin and pre-heat your oven to 200 degree Celsius.

  • Punch your dough in the centre to let the air escape. Lightly knead and use a roller pin to roll into  a flat piece resembling the shape of the baking tin. It will be about 0.5-1 cm thick for the dough to cover all the tin area. Make it as even as possible.

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  • Use a fork to lightly make some holes on top of the dough. As this is a big piece of pizza, this is to let the air to have some holes to escape.

  • Spread some pasta sauce on top of the dough

  • Fill the top with your choice of vegetables  and meats, if desired. sprinkle some Italian herbs mix such as basil, oregano etc..

  • Sprinkle sparingly with mozzarella cheese or other cheeses with your choice.

I have make half of the pizza as vegetarian and another half into ham and sausage pizzas for my kids.

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  • Bake your pizza in the oven for 15-20 minutes until the bases are cooked and cheeses have melt.

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  • Cur into your desired size and shape and best serve hot with your choice of additional sauces such as Tabasco sauces, mayonnaise or just plain.

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CONCLUSION

This was one of my very first basic vegetarian pizza that I have made  with great success. The post was very short because it deals with basic pizza preparation. More variations will come and Guaishushu will tailor the taste to the very Asian taste such as curry and etc.. However, that shall have to wait after Guaishushu finishes his vegetarian diet.

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

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Can I Have A Moon Cake That Is Not Round? Hmmm.. Try Short Crust Pastry Moon Cake

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Chinese Mooncake Festival or Mid Autumn Festival is arriving soon on 19-9-2013 (or Chinese Lunar Calendar August 15) and I think most bloggers will blog about moon cakes. There are many many moon cake recipes in the internet and there is no way for me to blog something that I am rather unfamiliar due to my poor shaping skills of moon cakes .

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This year I have a few attempts to shape the moon cake but not really successful. It cracked terribly and I have told members in my Facebook Group“Food Bloggers and Foodies United” that I am not going to issue a post on moon cake I totally do not have any confidence to share with readers about the making of moon cakes.

The next day after I issued the post, one of my relatives gave us a pack of moon cake from Kluang, Johor Malaysia. In the box, it was written clearly Shanghai Moon Cake, and what shocked me is that the shape is elongated and some called it a mouse shape.

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Sorry for my limited knowledge, I never seen Shanghai moon cake in this shape. I posted in my timeline and asked my friends what is that. Surprisingly a number of friends from Southern Peninsular Malaysia knew about this shop and ever tasted this special moon cake before.

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The next day, I cut it and ate a slice, I felt that the taste was very familiar. It resembles the short crust biscuits with the normal moon cake fillings. Therefore, I told my friends that I wanted to pursue another baking adventure based on what I tasted and I wanted to try to “reproduce” the moon cake that I received.

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That morning, there is no body in my house except myself. I just simply pick a short crust pastry recipe and start my adventures. Actually, the short crust pastry resembles the pineapples tart pastry. However, in this illustration, I made a mistake by including sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) in the dough. I shouldn’t need to include this as the fillings will expand when heated and the baking soda make the crack bigger that I do not want to see.

Putting that aside,  I would say that this pastry, or pardon me formally called it “SHORT CRUST PASTRY MOONCAKE” , is definitely worth trying. The soft filling blends extremely well with the melt in the mouth pastry wrapping it. Unlike other moon cake,  it is buttery in flavour and that make me wanted to share with readers this “funny” pastry aims at those who are adventurous to try out new ideas.

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But I have to highlight that, it is just like any pastry, it can’t keep for long. It is best to consume it within two to three days of making it. The wet fillings will make the short crust slightly soggy if you do not consume on time. Well, that is my frankest opinion and I do hope that readers have some confidences on me by baking this short crust pastry moon cake and share with me if it is up to your expectations.


WHAT IS REQUIRED

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  • 80 grams of salted butter, cut into cubes and keep in fridge waiting for later use.

  • 2 eggs lightly beaten

  • 400 grams of self raising flour (sifted)

  • 80 grams of sugar powder

  • 600 grams of moon cake fillings of your choice (in this illustration, I have used both the green tea paste and red bean paste).

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STEPS OF PREPARATION

Pre Preparation

  • Pre-heat the oven to 180 degree.

  • Get ready a baking tray with a piece of baking sheet.

  • Divide the moon cake fillings into 3 portions and roll it into an cylindrical shape of about 6 inches long.

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  • In a big mixing bowl, put in your sifted self raising flour, sugar powder. Add the butter cubes from the fridge. Use finger tips to lightly rub the butter until butter and flour are well mixed resembling crumbs. Rubbing should be light and fast. This resembles the preparation of scones and your can refer HERE.

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  • Make a whole in the centre put in the beaten eggs.

  • Use a fork or a knife to slightly mix the batter. Once the eggs and the flour have form a dough, transfer the dough to a table and knead for 1-2 minutes to ensure it is well mixed.

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  • Divide the dough into 3 portions. In my illustration, my dough weighed about 220 grams per portion.

  • Use a rolling pin to roll the dough in a floured surface into rectangular shape of about 10 inches x 5 inches.

  • Place your moon cake filling on top of the pastry, close the longer ends and roll follow the shape of the fillings.

  • Close the other two ends and ensure the edges are closed.

  • You can reshape to any shape that you want. However, I have opted to use the shape as shown above. Alternative shape is round shape. However, round shape is difficult for serving. So I opted for the oblong shape.

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  • Place the dough in the baking tray. Use a sharp knife to lightly cut lines on top of the dough.

  • Have the first egg wash and send to the oven and bake for 15 minutes.

  • After 15 minutes, take out and have a second egg wash. Baked for another minutes 10 and the moon cake is done.

  • For egg wash, hand beaten 1 egg yolks and add 2 big table spoons of water and 2 drops of oil. Sift and put in a container. Use a brush to lightly brush the dough.

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CONCLUSION

This is another way of serving the moon cake though traditionally, moon cake must be round resemble the moon. Whether this can be called moon cake or other name is up the discretion of the readers.

This moon cake was prepared using short crust pastries and the buttery taste of the pastry is totally different from traditional moon cake but it blends well with the traditional moon cake fillings. It is good to be served as a tea time snack item.

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I hope you enjoy my baking adventures for making this special shape moon cake inspired from the famous Kluang moon cake shop in Malaysia.

This recipe was included in Page 15-17 of the “Easy Mooncake Recipes E-book”. For more mooncake recipes, you can have a copy of Easy mooncake recipes  – A step by step guide” that was packed with 20 recipes, 45 pages at a reasonable convenience fee of USD4.00. The recipes covered various recipes from durian mooncake, traditional baked mooncake and also the less common Teochew mooncake . You can purchase by clicking the link above.You can either pay using Pay Pal or Credit card account. Please ensure that you have an PDF reader like Acrobat or iBooks in your mobile phone or iPad if you intended to read it in your ipad or mobile phone. Should there be any problems of purchasing, feel free to contact me at kengls@singnet.com.sg and separate arrangement can be made.

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Hope you like the post today and do join me in the baking adventures. Bake one for yourself and tell me if it suits your taste buds. Have a nice day and cheers


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Tempeh Revisited – Sweet And Spicy Tempeh And Oven Baked Honey Tempeh

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INTRODUCTION

I never cooked tempeh before. I have tempeh in some Malay restaurants but I did not like it. However, after joining various Facebook Food Groups, I noted that tempeh is becoming popular in Singapore and I have decided to relook at this special fermented soya beans products. Like bean curd, taukwa, miso paste and etc, tempeh also uses soya beans as its ingredients, however, it’s nutritional benefits is much higher than the the above mentioned products due to differences in production methods.


TEMPEH DEFINED..

As per Wikipedia:

“Tempeh (/ˈtɛmpeɪ/; Javanese: témpé, IPA: [tempe]), is a traditional soy product that is originally from Indonesia. It is made by a natural culturing and controlled fermentation process that binds soybeans into a cake form, similar to a very firm vegetarian burger patty. Tempeh is unique among major traditional soy foods in that it is the only one that did not originate from the Sinosphere cuisine.

It originated in today’s Indonesia, and is especially popular on the island of Java, where it is a staple source of protein. Like tofu, tempeh is made from soybeans, but it is a whole soybean product with different nutritional characteristics and textural qualities.[1] Tempeh’s fermentation process and its retention of the whole bean give it a higher content of protein, dietary fiber, and vitamins. It has a firm texture and an earthy flavor which becomes more pronounced as it ages. Because of its nutritional value, tempeh is used worldwide in vegetarian cuisine, where it is used as a meat analogue.” (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tempeh)

pic source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Tempeh_tempe.jpg


WHY THIS DISH

As I was doing my weekly marketing in one of the supermarkets in Singapore, there was a sale of fresh tempehs. 5 packets of fresh tempeh of 6 inches x 2 inches cost only SGD 2. I think that is a bargain and I want to take this opportunity to explore more about tempeh.

I knew I will not like tempeh if I just deep fried it and pan fried with belachan (shrimp paste) sauces, That is what I usually saw in the Malay food stalls. I knew if I am going to like it, the sizes have to be bite size with rich flavour to cover its original special flavour.

I decided to use half of the tempeh I bought by following the recipes published in Loft 48’s Sweet, Spicy Crunchy Tempeh. I told the blogger that sweet and spicy is something that I can’t resist. However, instead of crunchy, I prefer mine to be chewy, Therefore I have chose to oven bake instead of using deep fried. 

For the other half, I have make it into honey “roasted” tempeh where it become a sweet and chewy tempeh!

Note that these 2 recipes are VEGETARIAN friendly, therefore, you can adjust to include other spices or herbs such as shallots, onions, garlics and etc..


RECIPE 1 – SWEET AND SPICY TEMPEH



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WHAT IS REQUIRED

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  • 250 g of fresh tempeh
  • 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar
  • 1.5 tablespoons of chilli sauce
  • 1.5 tablespoons of dark soya sauce

STEPS OF PREPARATION

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  • Cut the tempeh into cubes.
  • Place it in a baking tray and put in a cold oven.
  • Set the oven temperature to 180 degree Celsius and bake for 15 minutes. For ever 5 minutes, open the oven door and stir it to ensure consistent baking.
  • After the 15 minutes, take it out and set aside.

Note that your tempeh will shrink quite significantly due to water loss. Every oven temperature will slightly differs. The error tolerance level is quite high for this recipe. Therefore, if you find the oven is too hot (sides to start to get burnt) or too cold (no changes in appearance), you can adjust your temperature accordingly by plus or minus 15 degree Celsius.

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  • In a pot, put the water, chili sauce, dark soya sauce and sugar and bring to boil under high  heat.
  • Let it boil until the mixture become sticky and glossy or caramelized.
  • Add in the baked tempeh and stir it until the all the tempeh were coated with the sweet and spicy sauce.

I have opted to use my own home made chilli sauce and you can understand more about chilli and chilli sauce HERE, When you read my post on chilli, you will know how spicy is my tempeh!

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  • Add additional red cut chilli if desired. Sprinkle some finely chopped coriander leaves as garnish.
  • Dish is best served with white rice

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RECIPE 2 – OVEN BAKED HONEY TEMPEH



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WHAT IS REQUIRED

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  • 250 g of fresh tempeh cut into thin slices
  • 3 tablespoon of honey
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 3 tablespoon of water
  • 1/4 cups of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of salt

STEPS OF PREPARATION

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  • Cut the tempeh into thin slices.
  • Line the tempeh in a baking tray and put in a cold oven.
  • Set the oven temperature to 180 degree Celsius and bake for 10 minutes. For ever 5 minutes, open the oven door and stir it to ensure consistent baking.
  • After the 1o minutes, take it out and set aside.

NOTE

If you want it to be crispy, you will have to bake for additional 10 minutes.

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  • Put the honey, water and olive oil in a pot and bring to boil.
  • Let it boil for 2 minutes and add in the baked tempeh slices
  • Stir well until it is well mixed and the tempeh slices have absorbed all the sugar syrup.

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  • In a big plate, put the sugar and salt and stir until it is well mixed.
  • Add the honey coated tempeh slices, stir and ensure all the tempeh were coated with sugar and salt mixture.
  • Take out the tempeh, shake of the sugar and transfer to  another plate.
  • Good to be served as party snack.

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CONCLUSIONS

  • Tempeh is full of nutritional values. It is the only soya bean related dish that do not originated from Greater China Region but from the Island of Java. It is fermented soya bean and consumption of tempeh will provide more nutrition (especially vitamin B12) than other soya beans products.
  • Tempeh is also called vegetarian burger patties. These two ways of preparation have masked the special soy flavour of tempeh yet provide some chewy texture of tempeh. Be it snack or side dish, it will definitely be welcome by your guest.
  • With these two ways of cooking, I have changed my perception of tempeh. My kids aged 7 and 9 who tried the oven baked honey tempeh have give his thumb up ! Personally, I prefer the sweet and spicy tempeh which is rather addictive and can’t go without  a class of icy cold water!

Hope you enjoy my post and feel free to LIKE me at this blog’s sister page Guaishushu Facebook Page. Have a nice day!

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What A Golf Ball Have To Do With A Pineapple? Well, It Is The Famous South East Asian Pineapple Tarts (凤梨酥)

This post is updated  on 9th January 2014 with the inclusion of a VEGETARIAN RECIPE. This recipe is egg less, milk less and butter less. Please scroll down towards the end of the post for vegetarian recipe. Both recipes share the same steps of illustration.

Second updates on 20 July 2014 : New Picture Taking

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INTRODUCTION

I told myself, I must set aside my time to write this post. I have lost my recipe twice. Once, accidentally thrown away by my wife as she thought it is my kids recycle paper and in another incident, I have typed down in a notepad in my old computer but I just can’t locate it when I switched to my new computer. So this time, I told myself that I must publish in my blog so that I have multiple copies and if I lost it, maybe I can still get a copy from my readers ! Ha-ha

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PINEAPPLE TARTS DEFINED

As usual, I will give some standard definition of the food that I am going to post so as to give readers a better understanding on what they are going to prepare! As per Wikipedia:

“Pineapple tarts refer to small, bite-size pastries filled with or topped with pineapple jam found in different parts of Asia. In South East Asia exists one form of Pineapple tart.  The pastry consists of a large proportion of butter and egg yolk, besides using corn starch, giving it a rich, buttery, tender and melt-in-the-mouth texture. The pineapple jam is usually made by slowly reducing and caramelizing grated fresh pineapple that has been mixed with sugar and spices – usually cinnamon, star anise and cloves. Typical shapes include a flat, open tart topped with pineapple jam under a lattice of pastry, rolls filled with jam that are open at the ends and jam-filled spheres. Considered a “festive cookie”, pineapple tarts are usually consumed during Hari Raya, Chinese New Year and Deepavali periods in Singapore and Malaysia.[However, they are sold all year round by commercial bakeries and by souvenir stores serving tourists.” Source: (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pineapple_tart)

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MAJOR TYPES OF PINEAPPLE TARTS

There are many types of pineapple tarts and the basic types are:

1) The golf ball types or enclosed version. It is also called melt in the mouth types of pineapple tarts. This shall be the recipe that I will share with readers today.

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2) The opened version whereby the pineapple jams sits on a flower like pastry.

Source : http://happyhomebaking.blogspot.sg

3) The half enclosed type or Nastar version whereby part of the jams were wrapped with two ends opened.It is also called pineapple rolls

Source: http://www.tastespotting.com


PREPARATION OF PINEAPPLE TARTS

Preparation of pineapple tarts will involve the following two main parts:

  • Preparation of pineapple jam – I will not cover this part in this post. I have made my pineapple jam before but as I did not capture the images here, therefore, I will not share with readers here. Instead, if you are interested to make your own pineapple jam, you can visit this blogger’s video http://.bigheadmagicmad.com on how he makes the pineapple jam. For this illustration, I have opted to use the ready-made jam sold over the counter which can be easily bought in most supermarkets or cake specialty stores in Singapore and Malaysia.
  • Shaping of Jams;
  • Preparation of Doughs;
  • Wrapping of Jams; and
  • Baking the Pastry

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The steps that I am going to detail here are rather unconventional and “unusual”. This is a method that I have used and found to be the easiest and fruitful method.  If you follow this recipe and preparation illustration strictly, you will get a melt in the mouth buttery pastry. Unlike other posts, I am rather insistent on the method and ingredients used to achieve that quality of tarts made. It is via many trial and error that I have come out with this recipe. There are no corn flours or cream cheeses as in other recipes. The pastry is just using extremely simple ingredients low gluten wheat flours or normal wheat flours, butter, sugar and egg. The recipe uses creaming method as opposed to the rubbing method but provide equally light pastry that melts in your mouth.

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WHAT IS REQUIRED

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

Pineapple Jams – Personally, I prefer the pineapple jam that are made with the pulps included. It will be slightly sour and fibrous. There are some category labelled  as “premium quantity” (which is made purely from the flesh) but in my humble opinion, the jams will are too sweet and too soft for this golf shape pineapple tarts

Salted Butter – I am rather insistent that it must be pure butter. No vegetable oil and mixture of vegetable oil and animal fats. Put aside the health issues, the fats selected must have high fat content!

Icy cold water – It is very important to have ice-cold water to incorporate air into the dough. When it is ice-cold, butter will not melt that soon and therefore, it is less likely to have a sticky dough.

Icing sugar – It must be icing sugar as the sugar must be extremely fine so that you don’t have any sugars that are not dissolved in the pastry due to the special handling of this dough.

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SHAPING OF JAMS

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  • Cut over the jam package. Use your best estimation to divide the jam equally. I am making about 1oo jam balls for 1 kg of pineapple jams. About 10 g per balls.
  • When shaping the balls, you may find it extremely sticky. Pat your hands with some clean water. the balls that you made will become very smooth. If you have excessive water in your hands, your balls will become very slippery and it will drop.
  • Get ready a plastic container, arranged it nicely layer by layer. In between the layer, add a piece of plastic sheet to separate the balls. This step is also deemed to be a must if you are following my methods later.
  • Once you have shaped all the jams, stored in the freezer for 3-4 hours. Don’t worry if your jam looks like an iron ball, that is ideal if you can constantly keep it in that way. Well this is a rather controversial step.

Notes

This step is preferably done the day before. Even not, should be at least 3-4 hours before. Unless you are an expert, you can wrap with immediately shaped balls, otherwise, 3-4 hours preparation, in my humble opinion is a must. You will know the reasons why very soon.


PREPARING THE DOUGHS…..

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  • Sift your flours, if possible two times in a container. Set aside for later use.
  • In  a mixing bowl, placed your butter and sugar. Beat until creamy.
  • Add in the egg yolks one by one, reduce your speed to slow and beat until the yolk were well mixed

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  • Take out the mixing bowl and fold in the flours using a big metal spoon as lightly as possible.
  • Alternate with icy cold water until all the flours and water have been added and well mixed.
  • Scope into a plastic container and put inside the refrigerator and let it cool for at least 1/2 to 1 hour.

Notes:

The harder it is, the easier for you to wrap. If you know how to handle this type of soft dough, you can wrap directly. However, for my wrapping method to be shared below, it is advisable for you to cool your dough until the butter start to solidify a bit.

If you are making a big batch of pineapple tarts, to save your electricity and effort, you can make the dough all at once at keeping it in the fridge. It can keep for a long period of time (at least more than a week) provided you only take the portion that you want for that session and keep all the rest in the fridge until you need it for the next session.

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WRAPPING THE DOUGHS AND ….

Here is the fun and controversial part.

I will show you the traditional way of wrapping and then show you my own way of wrapping to increase your productivities.

My unique way of wrapping was discovered by me during one of the nights just before Chinese New Year when I have to rush out the orders for my customers. The time is already very late, almost 11:00 pm. Nobody is helping me as my wife and my kids have to sleep early as they have to attend the school next day. I have to make at least 2 kg  jam equivalent of pineapple tarts (about 240 pineapple tarts). I am tired as nobody was helping me, I suddenly felt the urge to discontinue the making of the tarts. I threw all the balls into the dough, walked to the balcony and take a rest. After 15 minutes when I cooled down, I tried to salvage the situation and that I discovered this method was the best method so far. Subsequent testing confirmed that this was the easiest and with the thinnest dough. However, there are a few requisites that you must follow strictly as what I have described above and subsequently.

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  • Shape your dough into 10 grams each.
  • Flattened the dough, take a jam ball and put on top of it. Wrap it and shaped into a round ball.

You can use this method but since the objective is to have a mouthful pineapple tart. The pastry must be light and melt in your mouth. The flattening of dough may result in over handling of dough that yields harder crust eventually.  

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  • Pre-heat your oven to  180 degree Celsius.
  • Take out your dough, and use a spoon to slightly loosen the dough.
  • Take the jam balls from the freezer and throw, say, the first layers of the hard jam balls into the dough container. Put the rest back to the freezer.
  • Put some dough on top of the balls and rolled the balls on top of the hard dough.

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  • Shape the dough following the shape of the round hard jam balls and put in the baking trays.

Note:

This is a very important step, the harder the balls, the better it is for you to shape. The cold temperature of the balls will help to make the butter in the dough in solid form and resulting in light pastry crust.

As long as the dough covers the balls, you can start shaping it. Hard balls made your shaping very easy and give your final pineapple tarts an identical shape.

You need to time to make the tarts and at the same time, your balls will start to defrost. Therefore it is a must that you put it back into the freezer for it to get hard again. Rubbing the balls against the dough is very fast and quickly enclosed your jam balls.

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  • First egg wash before you  send the tarts into the oven. For egg wash, hand beaten 2 egg yolks and add 2 big tablespoons of water and 2 drops of oil. Sift and put in a container. Use a brush to lightly brush the tarts.
  • Put the tarts into the oven and bake for 20 minutes. 
  • 15 minutes after baking, take out the tray and have the second egg wash. By now, your tarts will start to take shape and firmer, so you can apply the egg wash more liberally. But care still have to be taken because it is “melt in your mouth”, when it is hot, it is still very “fragile”. so handle with care!!
  • After 5 minutes, take out the tarts and your mission is completed.

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Updated picture

Pineapple tarts prepared on January 2014

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CONCLUSIONS

  • This is a rather controversial way of making the tarts. However, the tarts that you made will really melt in your mouth.
  • It is unusual for me to say that you have to follow my exact steps but for this pastry, you have to follow very closely. Even 1 tablespoon less icy water may make your final products very floury.

  • The order of procedures have to be adhered very closely. Too high the temperature will make your dough sticky and finally your products become very hard. In addition, it will be rather difficult to handle if both the jam and the dough become sticky.
  • The selection of the ingredients are very important. I personally prefer animal fats with high fat content with no compromise. In addition, the jam preferably will include some pulp as it will not be too sweet and too sticky.

  • Practice made perfect! It is not tough but you must have that feeling of touch so if you fail your first attempt, you should not be deter to try the second time.

 

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

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UPDATED ON 9 JANUARY 2014 WITH INCLUSION OF VEGETARIAN PINEAPPLE TARTS


Every year I have to prepare two types of pineapple tarts: normal pineapple tarts and vegetarian pineapple tarts. Vegetarian pineapple tarts means that there are NO EGGS, NO BUTTER AND NO MILK. Therefore, it is acceptable for vegetarian by religion – particularly Buddhism.

Eggs have the ability to provide fragrance and binding effect of the tarts. These are substitute by corn flour. For egg wash purposes, honey is used instead of egg yolks. Of course the results will be less shinny like those egg washed by egg yolks. As for butter, it is substituted with margarine or other vegetable fats. In this recipe, it was 50% of margarine and 50% of olive oil bread spread. The end products will have some fragrance of olive oil. No detail illustration will be provided except the recipe. It is nice and slightly crispier than traditional pineapple tarts minus the butter aroma. It is definitely acceptable to me when I am on a vegetarian diet.

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VEGETARIAN PINEAPPLE TARTS RECIPES

  • 1 kg  of pineapple jam.(凤梨酱)

Dough

  • 400g of plain flour (面粉)
  • 200g of corn flour (玉米粉)
  • 175g margarine (Planta) (植物油)
  • 175g olive oil spread (can be substitute with margarine) (橄榄油-涂面包所用)
  • 50 g of icing sugar (糖粉)
  • Pinches of salt (少许盐)

“Egg Washing”

  • 1 tablespoon of honey with 1.5 tablespoon of water/soya milk – mixed well (1汤匙蜂蜜+1.5 汤匙的水或豆奶)

It is hoped that with this recipe, more people will be able to enjoy the South East Asian famous pineapple tarts. If you are on a gluten free diet, you can try to substitute the plain flour with gluten free flour

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pineapple tarts collage11

 

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  • For more recipes, you can refer to my RECIPE INDEX (updated as at 8 June 2014)  here and you can follow me at PINTEREST or visit the blog’s FACEBOOK PAGE to keep abreast of my future posts.  

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Special – What I cooked today (家常便饭系列)- 22-7-2013–Korma Chicken (科尔马鸡肉)

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UPDATED POST ON 16-2-2015 – Update with another set of images since i cooked the dish today.

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On 22 July, 2013, white rice served with:

  1. Korma Vegetable and Chicken       (蔬菜及鸡肉科尔马)
  2. Blanched Ladies Finger                 (青烫羊角豆)
  3. Chinese Cabbage (Napa) Soup       ( 大白菜汤)

To day, I have decided to cook Korma Chicken and Vegetable to expose my kids to curry dishes. As per my daughter’s request, no additional dishes were needed since she said she liked the dish and they have the Chinese Cabbage (Napa) soup which I cooked for lunch.

I agreed with her and just blanched some ladies finger to go with the Korma dish. If you want detailed pictorial instructions on cooking the Chinese Cabbage (Napa) Soup, you can follow the link above to Guaishushu’s Facebook Page.

 


KORMA CHICKEN AND VEGETABLES

 

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INTRODUCTION

I first tasted Korma chicken during my university days in Kuala Lumpur. It was in a Malay store  and when I take the first bite, I immediately fell in love with it as it is not spicy hot and the chicken is full of coriander fragrances. It had always in my mind because unlike other chicken curry dishes, the curry is beige in colour (depending on the spice mix) as opposed to the reddish yellow colour.

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Korma is actually a dish from South or Central Asia such as India and Pakistan. It is essentially cooked with a variety of spice powders of which the two most important spices are coriander  powder and cumin powder. It differ from the normal curry spice mix in that the ratio of turmeric powder is very small whereas for curry, the major portion of the spice mix is turmeric thus causes the dish to be yellowish in colour. In Malaysia, the Korma was cooked and thickened with coconut milk as compared to India and Pakistan where yoghurt were used. Nuts and peas  (such as cashew nuts and almonds) usually added to further thicken the gravy and enhance the taste.

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WHY THIS DISH

Recently, I found that my kids start to like curry dishes. However, before they eat the curry dishes, they will get ready a cup of cold water, take the curry chicken, dip into the cold water and start eating it. They still cannot take spicy hot food that were cooked with chilli. In view of this, I am thinking of letting them to try some Malay and Indian dishes that were not spicy hot. The first thing that comes to my mind is Korma chicken (ayam kurma in Malay). Therefore, last Saturday, when I frequented one  of the Indian Muslim spice stalls in Geylang Serai Singapore, I asked the same lady who gave me the Sarawak Laksa spice mix to pack me one Korma spice mix. You can read my previous “spice encounter” HERE.

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Another reason that I cooked this dish is for purposes of contributing to a food community in Google Plus whereby members were encouraged to contribute halal dishes during the month of Ramadan.

I love to eat Korma chicken. However, today, I have used more vegetables than meat in my Korma.  As my kids don’t really like to eat meat, hence I have used about 5 vegetables to make the dish. Should it be called a vegetable or chicken Korma is entirely up to you since it have almost equal portion of meats and vegetables in the dish. Smile

As this Korma dish uses small chicken chunks from drumsticks and vegetables, it is rather easy to cook, as such braising is consider not really necessary as compared to the traditional braising of lamb or big chicken pieces.

 


KORMA DISHES DEFINED

As per Wikipedia,

Korma, kormaa, qorma, khorma, or kurma is a dish originating in South Asia or Central Asia which can be made with yogurt, cream, nut and seed pastes or coconut milk. It is a type of curry.

It is a characteristic Indian dish which can be traced back to the 16th century and to the Mughal incursions into present-day Northern India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Classically, a korma is defined as a dish where meat or vegetables are braised with water, stock, and yogurt or creamy azid (the name is in fact derived from the Hindi and Urdu words for “braise”). The technique covers many different styles of korma (azid).

The flavour of a korma is based on a mixture of spices, including ground coriander and cumin, combined with yogurt kept below curdling temperature and incorporated slowly and carefully with the meat juices. Traditionally, this would have been carried out in a pot set over a very low fire, with charcoal on the lid to provide all-round heat. A korma can be mildly spiced or fiery and may use lamb, chicken, beef or game; some kormas combine meat and vegetables such as spinach and turnip. The term Shahi (English: Royal), used for some kormas indicates its status as a prestige dish, rather than an everyday meal, and its association with the court.

 


WHAT IS REQUIRED?

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  • 1.5 cups of tomatoes cut into big pieces;
  • 1.5 cups of onions cut into big pieces;
  • 1.5 cups of potatoes cut into big pieces;
  • 1.5 cups of carrots cut into big pieces;
  • 1.5 cups of celery cut into big pieces;
  • 750 grams of chicken tights cut into big pieces;

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  • 200 gram of Korma mix (readily available in most Indian provision shops or spices stalls). However, If you can’t get hold of the ready mix Korma spice, the two most spices are coriander powder and cumin powder in the ration of about 4:2. All other spices shall include cardamom, anise powder, fennel powders, turmeric all of which shall need a 1-2 teaspoon only).
  • 1 cup of yoghurt (optional but I have used it as I like the korma to be rich in flavour but slightly sour).
  • 2 cups of fresh coconut milk .
  • 1/2 cups of cooking oil or ghee or butters.

 


STEPS OF PREPARATION

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  • In a big mixing bowl, put the Korma spice powder and gradually add in water until it form a paste.
  • Have about 2-3 big tablespoons Korma spice mix and marinate for at least 15-30 minutes. As the chicken is quite small, therefore 15-30 minutes is deemed sufficient.

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  • In a big pot, put some cooking oils and fried the Korma spice mix until the fragrance starts to permeates the space.
  • Add 3 big cups of water, stir until the spices are well mixed.
  • Bring to boil until high heat. Note that as this is quite concentrated, you have to constantly stir it until it boils. This is to avoid the spice getting burnt in the bottom of the pot. Once boiled, turn the heat to medium or slow heat.

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  • Add in the potatoes, celery, carrots and onions and boiled for about 10 minutes;
  • Add in chicken chunks and boiled for about 20 minutes;
  • Add in tomato and boiled for another 5 minutes;
  • Add in yoghurt and coconut milk, seasonings (salt and sugar). Once boil, off the heat and let it sit in the pot for at least 5-10 minutes to let the ingredients further absorbed the gravy.
  • Garnish with fresh coriander leaves or mint and served with hot rice. Drizzle more yoghurt or coconut milk on top of the dish if necessary.

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CONCLUSIONS

  • Korma dish is a common dish among the Indian households in South and Central Asian. it is equally popular in Malaysia and Singapore especially among the Malay and Indian races. It is a form of curry dishes of which the main spices are coriander powder and cumin. It differs from curry in that the proportion of turmeric is very small and it can be cooked without chilli those making it rather “kids friendly”. The gravy were usually thickened with yoghurt or coconut milks and at times nuts such as cashew nuts and almonds were added.
  • The dish that were illustrated today uses lots of vegetables including celery which is not a common vegetable included in the curry dishes. However, celery is definitely a good choice as it could withstand rather long hours of cooking though the strong celery flavour were masked by the strong Korma aroma. As I have use drumstick meat, it is rather easy to cook and the texture is soft as compared to the breast meat.

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Hope you LIKE the post today and cheers.


 

 

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Macao and the Nobly, Elegant Lotus

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

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

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

Species Information

Scientific name:

Nelumbo nucifera Gaertn

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

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

  Pic courtesy of www.micefinder.com

Macau and lotus

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

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

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

                   

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

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

 

Thank for reading.