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

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

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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.

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WHAT IS REQUIRED

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

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

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

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

 

Ingredients

Variable measurement

Weight measurement

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

NOTES:

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(a) Pork Belly Meat

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

(b) Mushrooms

Instead of dicing the mushrooms into cubes, I have buy the cut mushrooms, soaked it and use a blender to process the mushrooms into small 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.

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(e)  Coriander powder (divided into 2 packets)

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

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

 

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

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

(i) Cooking Oil (divide into 2 portions)

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

 

(j) Bamboo leaves

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

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

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

IMG_4374pic courtesy of www.sgkopi.com

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

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

(k) Strings

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

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

(l) Pandanus leaves

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

(m) Butterfly Pea Flower (optional)

The butterfly pea flower shall be used for the 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.

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These are the pea flowers that I just pluck this morning and after submerging into the water for an hour, the 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.

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Preparation of Glutinous Rice

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

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

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

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

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


Preparation of fillings

 

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

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  • Add in the minced meat and fried to say about 70% cooked. Note that the minced meat was not added together with the diced pork belly because minced meat is easier to cook.
  • I preferred to add in the seasonings along long the process because I want the fillings’ 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.

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



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

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Wrapping of Chang

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

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

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

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

How to wrap Chineses Sticky Glutinous Rice Dumpling

 

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

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


Steaming the Chang 

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

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

The light greenish 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.

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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.

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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.

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UPDATED ON 21 MAY 2014

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

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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 .  

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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.

 

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Home Made Sauces, Pickles and Preserved Items .

Sauces 

INTRODUCTION

This is a compilation of common sauces, preserved vegetables, pickles and etc. targeted at house chefs.   It is definitely not a bad choice to prepare home made sauces though outsourcing some items can be cheaper at times. One good thing is that you are aware of what is included in the read made sauces.  One of the sauces that I like is homemade pasta sauces and you may want to have a look.

For recipes, click on the picture or title and go to the relevant link. If the link goes to Facebook Pages, click on individual picture, all the recipes and instructions were stated in the relevant picture.


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Hope you like the post today. Cheers.


For more recipes, you can refer to my RECIPE INDEX (updated as at 10th February 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 1500 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.


sauces2

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

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


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

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

1. Cleaning of leaves;

2. Preparation of rice;

3. Preparation of fillings;

4. Wrapping of Chang;

5. Steaming of the Chang

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


WHAT IS REQUIRED

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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

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

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

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

IMG_4374pic courtesy of www.sgkopi.com

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

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

(k) Strings

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

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

(l) Pandanus leaves

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

(m) Butterfly Pea Flower (optional)

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

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These are the pea flowers that I just pluck this morning and after submerging into the water for an hour, the 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.

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Preparation of Glutinous Rice

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

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

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

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

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


Preparation of fillings  

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

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  • Add in the minced meat and fried to say about 70% cooked. Note that the minced meat was not added together with the diced pork belly because minced meat is easier to cook.
  • I preferred to add in the seasonings along long the process because I want the fillings’ 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.

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


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

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Wrapping of Chang

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

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  • Well, since you are using cooked rice, that makes your life easier, you can shape the Chang first.
  • On a cutting board, roll the Chang into a long roll, divided it into about 60 g each and shaped it into a ball.

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  • Take two bamboo leaves and make it in a shape of a cone.
  • Take one ball and try to make a hole in the middle. If you find that it is sticky, just dip your finger into some clean water and pat it on the glutinous rice.
  • Take a spoon and scope some fillings to fill the cavity;
  • Take another ball and flattened it and cover the fillings. If you want to add Pandanus leaves, add it now;
  • Put some water in your hand and press the rice downwards until you feel that there are no air between the rice and the fillings.

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  • Press the tail of the bamboo leaves to cover the top portion and shape the tail like a swallow tail;
  • Twist it side wards to follow the shapes of the Chang. By now, your Chang should be in triangular shape and you should be able to hold the Chang with one hand.

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

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

How to wrap Chineses Sticky Glutinous Rice Dumpling

 

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

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


Steaming the Chang 

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

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

The light greenish 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 .
 

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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

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Let Try Something New–Red Dragon Fruits Pie Bar And Blueberry Pie Bar

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UPDATED POST ON 5-12-2014

Saw some blueberry in the supermarket and I have decided to update this post with some new pictures. Decided to prepare blueberry pie pars.. I have always loved pie bars especially its crumbly top.. Unlike normal pie, pie bars have more short crust pastry than its fillings. If you like short crust pastry of any sort, you shall try this..No major changes in the recipe, just torn down the sugar content to suit Asian taste buds..Changes are highlighted in red.

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INTRODUCTION

I have been challenged that most of my recipes that I have written are very “colourful”. If you think that I like permitted food colouring, that is not entirely true. You may have seen a few post that uses food colouring, but that essentially was because I am doing it more for illustration and picture taking purposes. If you read my post on Rainbow Loaf, you will understand how I justified the usage of permitted food colouring and struggling whether such a post should be issued. While I don’t encourage the use of food colouring, but we have to be realistic in our daily lives. I strongly believed the usage of permitted food colouring are all over the food outlets. What about Angkukueh? Do you think all mango puddings are consistently as yellow as what you saw every time your bought it? How about various type of tapioca pearls, milk teas, pasta sauces or even moon cakes? Well that is up to individual and I tend to choose to believe that NOT all the green colour in the Pandan Kaya or Kueh Srimuka/Salat that are sold in eating outlets  are all from the Pandanus leaves….

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This post is  using a natural colour. A colour that I am very hesitant to touch. I even hate it when it stained my cloth! It is one of the very strong natural colour – Purplish Red dragon fruits. There is an influx of purplish red dragon fruits in Singapore supermarkets in current year. Though I do not really like to touch the colour by itself, but I do believed it will help to create a visual effect in pastry’s presentation.

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In last week’s marketing, these dragon fruits were on sale and I managed to get 2 big red dragon fruits for S$2.50.. I think that it is a deal and I think I should made use of its natural colour to make some pastries. Then it reminded me of some blueberries pie bar that I read while browsing the internet. therefore, I have decided to use these dragon fruits to prepare some dragon fruits pie bars..

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Pie bar is a type of short crust pastry usually loaded with seasonal fruits and served as desserts. Fruits that are usually used include strawberries, blueberries and blackberries.

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WHAT IS NEEDED

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Pie Pastry for crust and toppings

  • 400 grams of plain flour

  • 330 grams of butter (cold and cut into cubes)

  • 300200) grams of sugar

  • Pinches of salt

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Dragon Fruit Fillings

  • 4 eggs (about 200 grams)

  • 400 (250 ) grams of sugar

  • 100 grams of plain flour

  • 150 grams of sour cream or whipped cream

  • Pinches of salt

  • 200 grams of dragon fruit (meshed) or mashed blueberries

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STEPS OF PREPARATION

Meshing Of Dragon Fruits

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  • Use some kitchen utensils or sharp objects such as forks or knifes or potatoes mashers to mesh the dragon fruits.

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Preparing the short crust pastry

  • Get ready a baking tray of 12” x 15” baking tray.

  • Preheat the oven to 180 degree Celsius

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  • In the big mixing bowl, put cold cut butter, flour and sugar. Use finger tips to rub the butter and flours mixtures together until resemble some crumbs.

  • Divide the crumbs into two portion, one for the bottom layer and another portion for the toppings.

  • Press half of the pastry against the bottoms of the baking tray. Use a fork to make a few holes in the pastry and set aside for later use. 

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Preparing the fillings

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  • In another mixing bowl, beat eggs, sugar, and cream together. Add flour and followed by mesh dragon fruits and mixed well.


Assembling And Baking The Pastry

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  • Pour the dragon fruits fillings on top of the pastry. Sprinkle the remaining flour mixture evenly over the fillings.

  • Bake in the oven for about 45 minutes at 180 degree Celsius.

  • Cool at least one hour before cutting your desired sizes.

  • Best served with some whipped creams, ice creams, additional fresh fruits or on its own.

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CONCLUSION

  • It is a dessert that is not that tough to prepare. I believed it is still relatively uncommon in Singapore and Malaysia. For a person with sweet tooth like me, I definitely wouldn’t object such a treat. The crispy and crunchy toppings resembles a bit of the biscuits with some mild fruity flavour of the red dragon fruits.

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  • I have hold up this post for one day as I am unsure about the colour combination and the acceptability of this desserts in this area of the world. When I posted up to one international communities in Google Plus, I was being encourage to proceed with the post as the pie bars looks appetizing.. Thanks to those members who have encouraged me to have this post.

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  • I have quite a number of posts in the past one month, this is due to the assistance from my mother in law who is visiting me and able to help me to “nag” my kids performs some household chores. In addition, Singapore was having a school holiday last week.  In the next few days, as my mother in law will be back to her home town, I will have to slow down my posting as I need my energies to nag and cooked for normal household meals. She has been a great helper in the house and I really appreciate and thankful for her presence and I know I am going to miss her like her grandsons and grand daughters…

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

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  • For more recipes, you can refer to my RECIPE INDEX (updated as at 26 November 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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Agar Agar is not the same as Agak Agak… Agar Agar is Red Algae !!

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INTRODUCTION

Agar Agar is a Malay word for red algae, apparently it has been accepted as an English word. It is hard for a lay man like me to explain agar agar, so  as usual, I will quote Wikipedia’s explanation of agar agar for reader’s understanding.

Per Wikipedia:

“The word “agar” comes from agar-agar, the Malay name for red algae (Gigartina, Gracilaria) from which the jelly is produced. It is also known as kanten, China grass, Japanese isinglass, Ceylon moss or Jaffna moss. 

Agar-agar is a natural vegetable gelatin counterpart. White and semi-translucent, it is sold in packages as washed and dried strips or in powdered form. It can be used to make jellies, puddings, and custards. For making jelly, it is boiled in water until the solids dissolve. Sweetener, flavouring, colouring, fruit or vegetables are then added and the liquid is poured into moulds to be served as desserts and vegetable aspics, or incorporated with other desserts, such as a jelly layer in a cake. “ (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agar)

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Agar agar is one type of traditional dessert commonly found in Singapore and Malaysia. It is easy to prepare and is a common item being served during Chinese New Year and other festivals. To make it requires no complicated kitchen utensils, just need to boil and mould. Traditionally, households used dried agar agar as shown in this illustration as the raw ingredient. However, in recent years, most households have started to use agar agar powder instead of dried agar agar.

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Traditionally, due to the lack of weighing scales, sophisticated kitchen utensils and written recipes, housewives usually prepare agar agar based on words of mouth using common kitchen items such as cups as the unit of measurement.

I was told that previously, the recipe is 1 cup of soaked agar agar will requires 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup of water. I liked this type of simple ratio recipe, however, when I tried out, it just turned out to be extremely sweet and tough.

Well, that type of recipe may not be acceptable nowadays since we have so many resources available. In olden days, the challenge to make a good agar agar is to get hold of the correct ratio of water to agar agar. The end product shall be slightly chewy and not to soft like the current jelly. In order to achieve such texture, housewives some times dried their agar agar under the sun. They believed that the less water content in the agar agar, the better it is. In fact, some house hold cut it into one bite size, dried it under the sun until it is very chewy, store in a container and eat it as a snacks or sweets!

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In recent years. preparation of agar agar is not entirely based on texture since all ingredients can be measure rather accurately. It is rather easy but the challenge had shifted to the colour combination and moulding. If you have the relevant mould, you can create your own design based on your creativities. One of the most trendy agar agar moulding will be agar agar moon cake where the agar agar were mould into a moon cake shape. Inside the agar agar moon cake, there is a yellow colour balls resembling the egg yolk.

Again that is deal with planning, making and moulding. It can be rather stressful if there are no prior planning on the colour selection and mould selection. Of course, it can be as simple as just a single colour one flat piece of agar agar. The taste will definitely be the same but of course it is less impressive to your guest.

This illustration will only provide you with the simplest layered agar agar procedures. You can chose your own colour and shape of your mould. I have use some heart shape mould and the colour is purely selected for this illustration only. At home, we will not go until this extent and usually have one to two colours plus 2-3 layers of agar agars.

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NATURAL COLOUR SELECTION

There are a lot of natural colour available and you can totally throw away the artificial colouring, if you wish. Suggested colours are:

  • White and milky – condense milk, coconut milk, fresh milk
  • Chocolate – instant coffee paste, chocolate  paste or powder
  • Red colour – red colour dragon fruits paste
  • Yellow – mango paste
  • Green – pandanus paste
  • Violet or blue – pea flowers
  • Purple –black currant drink
  • Red – strawberry paste
  • Dots in the agar agar –  dragon fruits

Besides the above colours, many varieties of cut fruits can also be included. For example, yam cubes with coconut milk is a good combination. Coffee with milk is another welcoming combination to make into agar agar. Canned Longan or lychee with black currant flavoured agar agar is also a presentable dessert. All this is very much depend on reader’s creativities to prepare one that is acceptable to the guest or family members.

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WHAT IS REQUIRED

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I have intentionally left out the quantities as it is best that you follow the instruction on the the package of agar agar that you bought. Be it dried agar agar strips as shown above or agar agar powders, they will have detail instructions on the quantity of water required. It is best that you follow these instruction as every brands of agar agar will requires different liquid to reach the desired textures.

  • 1 package of agar agar strip (about 38g)
  • Some water (refer package)

  • Some sugar (refer package)

  • Some permitted food colouring of your choice or the type of natural colouring ingredients as mentioned above.

  • Some moulds of your preference

  • Few leaves of Pandanus leaves – bundled (optional)

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STEPS OF PREPARATION

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  • Wash the dried agar agar by soaking in clean water for 1-2 minutes.

  • In a pot, put in the water as stated in the package and add dried agar agar. Use medium heat to bring the water to boil. Continue stirring until all the agar agar are dissolved.

  • Add in the required sugar into the agar agar solution and stirred until dissolve. Turn the heat to the minimal. You just need the heat to prevent the agar agar from solidifying while you do the layering. Alternatively, you can put your agar agar in a big basin of hot water.

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  • Take out some container of your choice, add in your preferred colouring and  pour into the mould.

  • Once done, put it in the freezer or chiller or under the fan and once it is set on the top, you can pour the second layer. How long will it take will depends on your room temperature, the concentration of your agar agar and the types of you container. For my today’s illustration, it is rather fast because the container is very small and my agar agar is quite concentrated.

  • Repeat the same for different layers until all the agar agar were used up.

  • Put in the fridge for another 10-15 minutes.
  • Remove from the mould, cut into your desired size and shape and put in your preferred serving plate.
  • Best served cold as a dessert.

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CONCLUSIONS

This is extremely simple. It is best that you based on what is stated in the package label to prepare the agar agar. Different brands will have different instructions.

Though this illustration is using traditional dried agar agar, you can use agar agar powder instead. The price for both dried agar agar and agar agar powder is rather economical and in my humble opinion, it is still a good choice of snacks or desserts. Variations are many and you have full flexibility to choose your desired flavour, colour and moulding. You guest will surely be impressed by your creativities.

Try this traditional Asian dessert and I am sure you wouldn’t regret preparing it. Hope you like the post today. Have a nice day and cheers.

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Easy Peasy Barley Bean Curd Sheets Sweet Soup (腐竹薏米甜汤)

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INTRODUCTION

This will be a straight forward short post.

A light, sweet and smooth desserts that will made me hard to resist whenever this dessert was served. It is a flexible dessert and if you wish, you can add in additional ingredients such as gingko nuts or lotus seeds. However, I have opt to use peanuts as I have never like the taste of gingko nuts. The peanuts blends equally well in the soup and in fact, in my humble opinion is a much better combination. The use of pressure cooker had reduce the time of preparation considerably.


 

WHAT IS REQUIRED

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  • 1/2 cup of peanuts
  • 6 pandanus leaves tied in a bunch
  • 1 packet (rather standard size) of dried bean curd sheets specially for desserts purposes.
  • 1 cup of rock sugar or granulated sugar
  • 8 cups of water

 

STEPS OF PREPARATION

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  • Wash the pandanus leaves and tie into a bundle. Set aside for later use.
  • Wash the peanuts and barley thoroughly and put in a pressure cooker and boiled for 25 minutes.
  • Release the pressure and put in the bean curd sheets, rock sugar and candied winter melons and boiled for another 10 minutes.
  • Release the pressure and preferably served hot or chilled.

Variations

Variations can include addition of gingko nuts, lotus seeds and jujubes.  Beaten eggs can also be added to thicken the sweet soup.

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CONCLUSION

  • This is a traditional Chinese desserts that I can never resists. It is easy to cook especially with the pressure cooker. It is a very light dessert, smooth, sweet and suitable for almost all occasion. Barley is researched to have the  capabilities of reducing lower cholesterol levels. Chinese believed that the sweet soup will be good and nutritional to the complexion and skin conditions. It is also believed that pregnant women who have taken this dessert regularly will give birth to a fair and chubby baby.
  • Try to make this simple desserts for your family. Remember that you can always tailor this to suit your taste buds and if you like Gingko nuts, go ahead as gingko nuts is beneficial to you brain and improved your memory.

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

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CCC – Cheesy Cassava Cake–A Modified Version of The Traditional Nonya Kuih Bengka Ubi

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INTRODUCTION

Tapioca or cassava is a staple root widely consumed in regions like Africa, Asia, Oceania and etc. It is easily propagated and commonly found in South East Asian countries. Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia are the top three exporter of tapioca in the world.

Tapioca or cassava cake is a very common household cake of any races (be in Chinese, Malay, Indian or other races) in Singapore and Malaysia. However, in the Peranakan cooking, Kueh Bengka Ubi is one the most famous items in its cuisines.

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There are generally two methods of making cassava cake, by steaming or baking. Chinese preferred to have its cassava cake steamed, as soft as possible and served with shredded coconut (at times this is needed as the cake are so soft and smooth that it is shapeless). On the other hand, the Nonya preferred to bake the cake using charcoal stoves or ovens. Usually, the baked cassava cake have a slightly burnt crusty top and the body is yellowish in colour and texture is rather “elastic”. It is very aromatic with a mixture of fragrances from pandanus leaves, coconut milks and eggs.

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CHEESEY CASSAVA CAKE

This recipe is my own without making reference to any recipes in the internet. As usual, I have prepared based on what I think is workable, memories on the cake that I have tasted before and one or two attempts a few months back.

This cake is different in its texture and its taste. Besides the normal fragrance of the traditional cassava cake, the  cake have a rich and cheesy fragrance. In addition, as you can infer from the pictures above, the texture is moist but not soggy or sticky. In fact, you can cut it into any shape that you want.

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The incorporation of cream cheese had made the cassava cake smoother and creamier. It helps to heighten the flavour of the eggs, coconut milk, butter and the cassava original flavour.

I have used small sago balls to enhance the texture. Grated cassava, under high heat can turn very sticky and subsequently become very chewy. The additions of sago balls somehow will help to sooth the texture making it even smoother.

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WHAT IS REQUIRED

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  • 100 g of sago balls – soaked in water (Volume of water should be about 2 times of the sago ball and note that the balls will expand)
  • 150 g of butter
  • 200 g of cream cheese
  • 250 g of granulated sugar

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  • 4 eggs
  • 200 ml of thick coconut milks
  • 1 kg of finely grated tapioca or cassava. You can buy in the market and grate it yourself. If you want to grate it yourself, you will have to use the food processor to chop it as finely as possible, and then you can proceed to use  a blender (instead of an cake mixer) to perform the following steps. You will need to put in your chopped cassavas, eggs, coconut milks and blend it to as smooth as possible).
  • Red and green (pandanus) colouring (optional) – I have resorted to the use of red and green colouring this illustration as I find that the traditional cake are rather dull in colour and I want my cake to look more colourful and appetizing.

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STEPS OF PREPARATION

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  • Pre-heat your oven to 180 degree Celsius.
  • Get ready a 8 inch x 8 inch baking tin. Slightly grease the tin with either butter or cooking oil. Dust some wheat flour if necessary.
  • In the mixing bowl, beat your butter, cream cheese and sugar using medium speed until evenly mixed. Note that the purpose of this step is not to let you have a fluffy cake like other cake recipes. The beating here is mainly a mixing step, a step to ensure that the butter and cream cheese are evenly mixed.

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  • Once well mixed, add in your eggs one at a time and followed by the coconut milk. You should only use low speed for this simple mixing purpose. Scrap out the bottom and sides of the mixing bowl to ensure that there are not cheeses sticking to the bowl.
  • At this stage, you will notice that the mixture become more and more watery which is normal and hence SPEED SHOULD BE LOW as long as mixing can be performed.

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  • Add in the grated cassava and soaked sago balls. “Beat” at the lowest speed possible. You will see that after 1-2 minutes of slow mixing, the liquid start to disappear as it was further absorbed by the sago balls.
  • Separate into approximately 4 equal portions. One portion with red colouring, one portion with green colouring and the other two portions maintain the original colour.

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  • Pour the uncoloured portion of the batter to the tin, followed by green and red portion. It is entirely up to readers as to what design you want your cake to cook like. For me , I have opted to have some simple big stripes design. As the batter is not very watery, it is rather easy for you to design your pattern.
  • Baked using 190 degree Celsius for about 30-45 minutes or until set. Until set means when you push the baking tin, the centre of the cake does not “vibrate”. Another test is that you insert a skewer in the centre of the cake, the skewer come out clean. However, as this is a cassava cake, cassava when hot can be slightly slimy and as long as you taste it is not raw, the cake is consider as cooked.
  • Leave the cake in the tin for about 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  • Cutting of cake is  best done 3-4 hours after baking to ensure that centre of the cake is completely cool. As long as when you cut the cake, there are some cake stick to the knife, your cake is considered as not cool completely.

  • Serving suggestions – you can serve with shredded coconut with white sugar and hot tea or coffee.
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CONCLUSIONS

  • This is a modified recipe by incorporating cream cheese and sago balls to the traditional cassava cake. The main aim is to smoothen the cake texture and make the cake creamier along with the fragrance of eggs, coconut milk and cassava.
  • Resulting from the modification, this will be totally different from the traditional cassava cake that you may have tried. It is soft, slightly springy and with cheesy coconut fragrance.  The shredded sugar coconut with heighten the palate and reach another higher dimensions.
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  • It is easy to cut into your desired sizes and looks presentable in tea party as a snack items.
  • If you think that you are a professional Nonya cake baker, you should try and tell me what is your opinion. If you are new to pastry making, this is one item that will not ruin your confidence.

Hope you LIKE it and have a nice day. Cheers

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