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

UPDATED POST ON 16-10-2014 – NEW PICTURE TAKING

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PART III   COOKING THE SARAWAK LAKSA

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

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

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WHAT YOU NEED?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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THE COOKING BEGINS…

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

 

Step 1 – Blanching the Chicken Breast

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


Step 2 – Blanching the prawns

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


Step 3 – Making of additional Prawn Stocks

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


Steps 4 – Cooking the Laksa Soup

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


Step 5 – Making the Egg Omelettes

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


Step 6 – Blanching The Bean Sprouts and Rice Vermicelli


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

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


Step 7 – Assembling and Garnishing

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

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CONCLUSIONS

  • In Part 1, the definition of Sarawak Laksa, its uniqueness and the popularity have been discussed HERE.
  • Part 2 dwelled into the details of making the Sarawak Laksa Paste with a list of all major raw ingredients, its procedures and a comparison analysis between recipes. Please refer HERE.
  • Part 3 detailed how Sarawak Laksa should be prepared.

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

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  • For more recipes, you can refer to my RECIPE INDEX (updated as at 15 October 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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Malaysian Singaporean Chinese Food–Popiah Sarawak Style (干式薄饼)

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UPDATED POST ON 6-10-2014

As this is an very old post, I have decided to prepare some Sarawak Style dry popiah and do some picture shooting. Being one of the very first post of this blog, the pictures were not well taken.

Today, I have prepared these popiah using home made popiah skin and  if you are interested you can refer to this post: Homemade Spring Roll Crepes–Popiah Skin (春卷皮,薄饼皮, 润饼皮)

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INTRODUCTION

Popiah (Pe̍h-ōe-jī: pȯh-piáⁿ) is a Fujian/Chaozhou-style fresh spring roll common in Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia and Burma/Myanmar, where it is called kawpyan. Popiah is often eaten in the Fujian province of China (usually in Xiamen) and its neighbouring Chaoshan on the Qingming Festival. In the Teochew (Chaozhou) dialect, popiah is pronounced as “Bo-BEE-a”(薄餅仔). [1]which means “thin wafer”. In Thailand, no doubt influenced by its large Teochew Overseas Chinese community, the spring rolls are called “Bpaw! Bee Uh”. In variants of the Hokkien dialect, it is also commonly referred to as “lun-BEE-a”(潤餅仔), which probably explains why the spring rolls are referred to as “lumpia” in the Philippines. It is sometimes referred to as runbing (潤餅) or baobing (薄饼) in Mandarin, and also as bópíjuǎn (薄皮卷).        – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Popiah  

First and foremost, I have to qualify that the name Popiah – Sarawak Style was used because it is different from the popiah that I have eaten in West Malaysia and Singapore. What I have cooked and written here is based on my memories that my late mother have prepared for us and the type that were commonly sold in the “kueh” stalls in Kuching about 20 years ago. We can easily buy popiah  together with other Kuehs such as curry puffs, fried bananas, angku kueh etc. as breakfast items. It is prepared in advance and not the type that they only wrapped it when you order as commonly found in the food courts or hawker stalls.  The hawkers who sell the popiah usually did not prepare the Popiah on the spot. However, I am uncertain if this type of popiah is still common among Kuchingites but internet research shows not many bloggers talking about this version of popiah (presumably out-dated). However, I still insist to prepare popiah in this manner as it is easier to prepare and store (if you cannot finish) and personally more tasty and less soggy.….

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Difference between Popiah Sarawak Style and West Malaysian/Singapore style

So, what is so different about my Popiah Sarawak Style. Frankly, not much difference except once critical process of  preparing  the jicama filling. Instead of simmering the cabbage and jicama in prawn soup etc. as in West Malaysian/Singapore style, we fried it  and therefore I termed mine as the dry version.

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Singapore and West Malaysian Popiah appeared to be the Hokkien version of popiah originated from Xiamen, China, jicama and cabbage were julienned and cooked over slow fire in prawn stock or plain water until they are very soft. When wrapping, people used fork or other kitchen utensils to press against the cooked jicama for purposes of squeezing the water out before wrapping using the rice crepes.

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For dry version, no cabbage was used and jicamas were usually julienned into thicker stripes. It was then sprinkled with some salt to “force” the water out using the principle of osmosis. After that, it will be fried together with other ingredients. One thing to note is that the jicama when julienned, should not be too fine.   Other wise, your fried fillings will be too soggy for wrapping.

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Preparation process

I have to admit that I hate to make popiah as it involves a lot of works of slicing, dicing, julienning and cutting of ingredients and most of the processes have no shortcut using food processor except using your own hands. Among the main steps are:

  1. Julienning jicama (bangkuang);
  2. Dicing of taukwa ( I am looking for the hard yellow taukwa for dicing but I can’t find it this round, instead I use the brown taukwa. Unlike the wet version, they prefer to mesh the white taukwa)
  3. Slicing of dried mushrooms;
  4. Mincing of dried shrimps;
  5. Picking of bean sprouts’ “tail” and blanching the bean sprouts
  6. Chopping of garlics and onions into very fine pieces for frying (this I opt to use a food processor);
  7. Shelling of prawns, blanched and diced into cubes;
  8. Dicing of French beans;
  9. Frying of eggs pancake and julienned into small stripes;
  10. Grounding of peanuts and sugar;
  11. Mincing of pork belly (I opted to buy ready make)
  12. Cleaning of lettuce and coriander. Use some clean cloth to dry the lettuce and flatten it.
  13. Preparation of sweet sauce (corn starched with sugar but I opt to buy the ready made sauce)
  14. Preparation of chilli sauce (I have used the chilli sauce that I have made earlier)

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Therefore, from the above, the process of preparing of raw material is laborious and  it would be  tough for one person to shoulder all the responsibilities of preparing all the ingredients by one self. In old time, such preparation process is actually a “come and help” social gathering whereby usually lady guests will come earlier and help with the preparation of the raw ingredients and the man would come after all the popiahs were wrapped! 

SARAWAK STYLE POPIAH

Cooking process – the dry version

  • Fried some minced garlics and onion until brown, sieved and set aside for later use.

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  • Stir fried minced garlics and onion, dry prawns and mushrooms until the fragrant comes out. At this stage, I usually add some condiments such as pepper and salt at this stage.

  • Throw in the minced pork belly, French beans, dried tofu  (in this order) one by one until the pork belly is 70% cooked. Add the jicama and bean sprouts and fried until you see the jicama start to get soft (which is very fast). I have to caution against that jicama should not be over cooked other wise it will be soggy.

  • Mixed the blanched prawns, add additional condiments to taste and you are done. You should have a rather dry filling.

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Wrapping process

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  • Lay one Popiah skin on the table, put a leaf of “flattened” fresh lettuce, put some deep fried garlics and spread some sweet sauces and chillies on the lettuce. It is wise to spread this fix ins on the lettuce because this will prevent liquids penetrating the skin making the skin too soggy for wrapping.

  • Put some fillings, eggs stripe, coriander leaves on top of the lettuce;

  • Put some sweet sauce on top followed by some groundnut powder. Note, I only put sweet sauce at this junction, again, I want to let the sweet sauce penetrate the filling and collected by the lettuce.

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  • Fold the spring rolls and open your mouth to eat….smile.

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Serving

  • Serving of the dry version is usually not cut into small pieces. As it is dry, you can just take one and popped into your month without utilizing any spoon and plates. In older days, it was wrapped with a piece of white paper to facilitate your holding and prevent juices coming out of the filling.

  • If you cannot finish it, you can just wrap it and store in the fridge. The next day, just fried it and it will become fried spring roll. If the skin is too damp, since it is frying, you can add another skin. Alternatively, you can store you left over filling in the fridge and wrap it the next day before frying or consider making the Kueh Pie Tee.

You can have as many variants of popiah as possible but in my humble opinion, the following ingredients should not be substituted to make it to taste like popiah: taukwa, jicama, French beans, beansprouts, grounded peanuts and sweet sauce. 

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Lastly, please note that the filling for these Chinese style Sarawak Popiah can be used in Kuih Pie Tee as well. If you are interested, you can refer to this post: Malaysian Singaporean Chinese Food -Kueh Pie Tee

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CONCLUSION

Lastly, I found two bloggers talking about these version of popiah and they also name this Sarawak Popiah but none is certain about the name but stressed that “this is the style my mum used to serve us back in Sarawak”. The reasons of what culture influenced the elder Sarawakian prepared this type of popiah is still unknown and I would be glad if any of the reader can tell me the evolution of this type of popiah in Kuching. Sarawakians, shall we patent it ?? LOL

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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 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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Where is my cake? I Can’t See!–Famous Sarawak Midnight Cake (Cake Seri kaya Sarawak, Kek Belachan, Kek Hati Parit) revisited.. (砂朥越深夜蛋糕)

 

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UPDATED POST ON 8-9-2014

I have decided to prepare this cake this afternoon as I craved for this cake… I don’t usually prepare this cake because it is addictive, rather costly and time consuming. Even in Sarawak, this cake was only available during festivals such as Hari Raya Aidilfiltri..

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When I posted in the Facebook, most members of Facebook Group who have tasted the cake said that it is nice, rich and dense. For those that they purchased, it is also very expensive due to the cost of ingredients. Further discussion also revealed that this cake is also called Kek Hati Parit and Kek Belachan because its darkness resemble the shrimp paste.

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INTRODUCTION

Sarawak  is one of the states in Malaysia located in the island of Borneo. It has many unique cuisines and one of the rather unique pastries is the Sarawak Midnight Cake as mentioned in this post and another one more famous cake is the Sarawak layered cake or Kek Lapis Sarawak that looks below.

  Sarawak Layered cake: pic courtesy of http://senai.olx.com.my/

This post is concerned about Sarawak Midnight Cake or more well known locally as Seri kaya Sarawak Cake (hereinafter referred to as “Seri kaya Sarawak). Note that kaya is also known as coconut jam made using coconut milk, eggs and sugars.

Seri kaya Sarawak has lots of names. It is synonymous with “Black Cake” (Kek hitam), “Sarawak Black Forest Cake”, “Belachan Cake” ( a type of shrimp paste) or the more Americanized name of “Sarawak Midnight Cake!” 

So from the name Seri kaya, Midnight Cake, Belachan Cake what can we say about the cake? As can be inferred from its names, the cake has Kaya (coconut egg jam) with a belachan shape (and color) and it’s DARK in color. Recipes are calling to use various coloring agents to darken the cake be it artificial coloring, chocolate molasses, Sarawak black palm sugars, chocolate paste and even unconventional dark soya sauce. 

The uniqueness of this cake is that it is a moist, rich and dense steamed cake. 

 


WHY THIS CAKE

While I was writing some thing about Sarawak Cuisines in the Authentic Sarawak Food and History Page, Seri kaya Sarawak is one of the cakes that I have mentioned. After writing the post, I really felt the urge to make the cake since I have not tasted this cake for more than 15 years at least. 

When I was in Kuching,Sarawak, during Chinese New Year, one relative used to give us this cake and during Hari Raya time (a Muslim festival whereby we do house visit), whenever I visited my Malay friends, I will always look out for this cake. I usually can’t stop eating the cake because it is just so yummy.. Looking at the picture of the cakes made me drooling and therefore I have decided to bake my own cake.

Food bloggers some time called this cake “secretive cake” and most of them do not willing to provide a recipe to the cake, They just bake the cake and show to the readers. Even if you can get hold of some recipes, the recipes that you  have collected can be very different for each recipe. Be it the ratio, types of ingredients used, preparation method, everyone will claimed theirs  were the best.

For me, too many recipes is equivalent to no recipe. I have decided to create my own cake based on my memoirs on the texture of the cake and aroma of the cake. I have analyzed various recipes and come out with this recipe that I want to share with readers today.

This is a rather simple recipe by passing a number of traditional methods of baking and skipped some unimportant ingredients usually used by other recipes. The output is at least 90%-95% similar to the cakes that I have tasted many years ago. (Note: this cake has a very distinct taste and it should be a moist, dense cake with fragrance of Horlicks (chocolate malt) and Milo).


WHAT YOU NEED

Most of the ingredients that was used are the breakfast beverages items.

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  • 125 g of Milo
  • 125 g of Ovaltine Malt Drinks – Most recipe called for Horlicks but I have substituted this with Ovaltine Malt drinks as the price is at least 50% cheaper but the taste is quite indifferent;
  • 125g of  condensed milk or sweetened creamer
  • 250g of Kaya (coconut egg jam)

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  • 125 gram of brown sugar
  • 250 gram of eggs (about 4-5)
  • 250 gram of unsalted butter – melted
  • 2.5 table spoons of chocolate emulco
  • 250 gram of plain flour (not in the picture above)

 

Do you see any trend in the measurements of the above recipe? The recipe can be summarized again in the following ratio.

Brown sugar+Condensed milk : Milo + Ovaltine :Plain Flour : Coconut Jam = 250g : 250g : 250g : 250g = 1  :   1   :  1  :   1

The picture below summary all the ingredients

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STEPS OF PREPARATION

These steps of preparation are rather unconventional. Conventional method will advise the use of creaming method (meaning beating of sugar and butter). The creaming step is mainly used if you want a fluffier and lighter cake.

However, as this cake is supposed to be moist and DENSE, therefore, I do not use the creaming method. I have used the mixer purely for mixing purposes. In all the steps, just ensure that the mixer is at low speed and as long as the ingredients are well mixed, just put another ingredient in. Well mixed basically means that the color are consistent. This mixing method will saves you a lot of time as compared to the creaming method.

If you do not have a mixer, you can mix it manually and it shouldn’t be very difficult as most ingredients are liquid and has lot of moisture content.

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  • In a mixing bowl, put the brown sugar, condensed milk and melted butter together. Beat at low to medium speed;  It will take the most 1-2 minutes and look like the batter in pic 3.
  • Add in the cracked eggs and continue beating at the same speed until well mixed.

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  • Add in the coconut jam (kaya) and continue to beat at same speed for 1 minutes.
  • Note that I have used the Nonya Kaya which is greenish in color. However, you can also use other types of kaya such as gula melaka kaya (dark brownish) or Hainanese kaya (orange to light brownish).
  • Add in the Milo and Ovaltine (chocolate malt and can use Horlicks as well) and continue to beat for another 1 minutes or until color consistency is reached.

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  • After adding Ovaltine and Milo, you will note that the color start to turn brownish. As Ovaltine and Milo will coagulate and takes a while to dissolve, you just have to ensure that there are no more lumps in the mixture.
  • Sieve the plain flour into the mixture and continue to mix until color consistency is reached.
  • Plain flour shall be used and not the cake flour or self raising flour and no baking powder or baking soda is needed. THIS IS A DENSE CAKE and therefore, you do not want your cakes to be too fluffy.

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  • After it is ready, add in 2 table spoons of chocolate emulco (alternative chocolate paste, black palm sugar, brown color agent) and beat until the there is no more lumps and color is consistent. It takes another 1-2 minutes.
  • If you use black palm sugar, there is no need to use brown sugar. Volume will be 150g black palm sugar.

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  • Get ready a 6 inch square tin, grease the sides and bottom, dust with wheat flour.
  • Greasing can be done with any fats such as cooking oil etc. I have used the wrapper for the butter to grease the sides. Alternatively, you can just use the left over melted butter in your bowl to grease the side. This is something not usually presented in the recipe books but I have purposely put it here to share with readers since it is a good practice to “conserve” world resources, joking.

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  • Get ready a steamer and bring the water to boil. As this cake is very dense, therefore, it need a few hours of steaming. That steaming process can be rather long reaching 2-3 hours and if it an 8 inch tin, may need 4-5 hours.
  • Pour your batter into the baking tin and cover with aluminum foil. This is to avoid the condensation of water vapors dripping into the cake batter making it hard to get cooked.
  • When the water boiled, put in the cake tin and steaming over medium to high heat for 3-4 hours.
  • Note that how long it takes to cook will depend on lots of factors including the size of baking tins you used (a big baking tin with a shallower batter will be faster to get cooked than a smaller tin), the environment (in an enclosed environment it will be easier to get cooked than in a well ventilated area).
  • As a guideline, after 2 hours of steaming, you can slightly lift up the aluminum foil and see if the batter was set. Set means when you push, the batter wouldn’t move. Usually, the middle part is the part that takes longer to cook.
  • Whatever you do for this process, you have to be careful to minimize the heat loss, otherwise it will take time to get enough heat for the cake to rise again and some may not be able to rise as the cake structure had been destroyed.
  • If there is not enough water, just boil some hot water and pour inside the steamer carefully. You may need to replenish the water 2-3 times.

 

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  • The cake is cooked when it looks like the first picture. To counter ensure that it is cooked, use some stick to pierce down the batter and see if anything sticky in your stick. If none, the cake is ready.
  • Let it rest for say 30 minutes and transfer to your cake rake if you want. Note that when it is hot, the cake structure can be very fragile, cooling will gel backed the structure . So, any handling have to be done gently.
  • The 1st picture showed the cake just come out from the steamer. After about 1.5 hour of resting, I dusted with some Ovaltine and Milo (optional) powder. You can see from the cross section of the cake that it is very moist and dense.
  • Cutting the cakes into the desired size, serve with or without sauce.


Serving Suggestions

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  • Picture one is serving without any sauce.
  • Picture two to four is serving with evaporated milk and some dusted with Ovaltine and Milo powder. Fresh milk can also be used.
  • In picture four, I have decided to turn it into some form of wet dessert soaking in milk. As the texture is very soft, you can actually turn it into any shape with it. Trust me, it wouldn’t compromise the original taste. The original taste is very strong and this will smoothen out the strong cocoa and chocolate malt flavor.

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CONCLUSION

  • This is a super rich and dense cake. You can treat it as another form of chocolate mud cake or American midnight fudge cake. Taking a bite is resembling like having a scope of butter, coconut jam, chocolate malt, condense milk all at once which is extremely smooth and with the nice aromatic smell of breakfast beverages.
  • The origin of this cake is still unknown but it is unique that all the main ingredients are related to the breakfast items such as Milo, Horlicks, condensed milks and coconut jams used for toast. Could this be influenced by the British during the British colonization of Sarawak before 1945’s? Only coconut jam and black palm sugar is quite local and all other ingredients are most imported or originated from European countries. 

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  • The Western version of fudge cake or midnight cake requires chocolates, using the creaming method and utilizing the oven for baking. As oven is a luxury in traditional Sarawak, steaming method was used instead. Imported chocolate will cost a bomb and therefore these were substituted by breakfast beverages. Does it sound logical? Otherwise, how can an isolated island with so much diverse culture can come out with such a rich and nice cake like the desserts in Western countries? Let me know your opinion.
  • Like Sarawak Laksa paste, too secretive a recipe and too many versions of a recipe will equivalent to no recipe. I have simplified the ratio and the preparation method with no compromise in the texture and taste of my cakes.

I hoped for those who never try this cake before, please try to make one and you will never regret it. Hope that you enjoy the  post and happy reading. Cheers

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  • For more recipes, you can refer to my RECIPE INDEX (updated as at 28 July 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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A Short Trip to Annah Rais Long House, Kuching, Sarawak East Malaysia

I don’t plan to issue this post but because friends are asking for my experience to a long house, Annah Rais long house located at Padawan District, Kuching, Sarawak, East Malaysia, I have decided to share these rather poorly taken images with brief narrations..The long house is about 45 minutes drive from Kuching, capital city of Sarawak.. They have some celebrations on and we are visiting a long distant relative who is living here.

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OFF WE GO


Before we go… Stopped at Kuching and buy some hand gifts… Meat steamed buns and the famous Sarawak Butter Buns..

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The weather was good and not many cars in the main road

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We arrived the long house 45 minutes later and we selected another entrance to go to the Long House

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The car needed to pass by a wooden bridge

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After we were aligned, ..

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we need to climb out various type of wooden stair cases

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And this traditional thin teak stair case in the exhibition house.

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Above the stair case is mostly bamboo mats and bamboo verandas.

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What is like under the bamboo verandas?

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You can see peep down and have a look!

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What you saw is this high! may be at least 3-4 meters tall or taller..

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And the building was supported using these type of round tree trunks….

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Some of the old items that can be seen and reminded us times really flies..


GREAT TIME AT VERANDAS


At times, they wash their dishes at the verandas and I am unsure where the water went? Ha-ha!

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Some chickens were well treated in certain corner of the verandas.

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Some area were used to keep some firewood..

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Verandas are also for rest..

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Women did their house chores…

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Kids have their way of games to pass their free times

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Some of the unused tires become their hula hook and swimming floats or live buoys…

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hmmm, besides simpler life, they do watch cable TV and internet is available

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And there is a government bank

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Some unique urn belong to the Bidayuh brothers

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Some unique bamboo knapsack

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How about a bit old kettle?

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A typical kitchen cabinets in the early 1970s and 1960s..before inbuilt kitchen cabinet were introduced..

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Do you remember kerosene lamp?

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How about this radio that looks familiar?

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How about this special post box?

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And not forgetting the government conserved heritage in one of the houses…

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FOOD


Food was served and some demo was on at this particular day..

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We were served with traditional Bidayuh food like pansoh ayam (bamboo chicken) penyaram, pucuk ubi (tapioca leaves), bamboo rice and many others

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And glutinous rice being cooked in pitcher plant..

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How can I forget this famous bamboo chicken where rice and chicken were stuffed into the bamboo and smoked for 2-3 hours..

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And after 3 hours..

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and we brought some back as hand gifts…

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OFF WE WENT FOR SOME FUN AT MOTHER NATURE


We walked to the destination for about 15 minutes….

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and we reached a jungle track….

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Some “rescues” is required before reaching the destination

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They then saw these crystal clear water

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They jump and have some swim using the tyre “life buoys”

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On the side there are wild fruits

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and some butterflies…

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And all these belong to this river…

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When they are back to the long house, they found these little chair that become their source of funs for sometime…

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and they have to  sit down in the bamboo verandas to rest before it departs…

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Before we go, I found that next to the house window, is the rambutan trees and you can easily pluck it from your window when ripe.

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on the way to the car, there are some sour soup tree

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and this childhood plant that we used to play with and brought lots of fond memories….

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Homesick Buns? Yes, I am homesick of Sarawak Style Butter Buns..

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UPDATED POST ON 11-10-2014

Craving for the buns that I can get hold in Singapore, and I have decided to prepare these buns to surprise my wife. We usually bought back from Sarawak if we visited our home town. There is no change in the recipe but I have decided to use the BASIC BREAD DOUGH RECIPE instead of the tangzhong dough recipe here.  Please refer here for the BASIC BREAD DOUGH RECIPE. I find that the basic dough is much faster without compromise quality of the buns.

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INTRODUCTION

This is a rather simple basic bun of which I am yet to trace the history. The uniqueness of this bun is its filling. The filling is made of butter, sugar and flour. Throughout my years overseas, I have yet to find buns that have this filling. The nearest that I have came across is butter milk buns where milk powder is used used instead of pure butter.

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I came from Sarawak, Malaysia. Sarawak is located in the island of Borneo. Since young, I have been eating these buns for breakfasts and snacks.

I missed the buns. The fillings are aromatic. It is sweet and buttery in flavour. When I made the first batch 2 days ago, I posted my pictures in the Google plus certain baking communities and my Facebook timeline, I was surprised that there are a number of readers and my friends are requesting for the recipe. What shocked me is that most of them in Google plus communities have never seen or eaten the buns before. Apparently, they are either curious about the fillings based on my descriptions.

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As for the first batch, I did not take any measurements, I have decided to do the second batch so as to share the recipe with the readers.

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SARAWAK STYLE BUTTER BUNS

Sarawak style butter buns shall not be confused with the butter soft buns that are mentioned in other recipe books. The so called butter buns in recipe books are mostly refer to buns with no filling. It shall also not to be confused with the Hong Kong cocktail buns where the fillings are shredded coconuts and butters. In addition, they are also different from the so called “butter buns” whereby a butter cube is wrapped by the dough and when baked, the butter melts into the bread. Since there are possibilities of misunderstanding, I shall call these special buns as “Sarawak Style Butter Buns”.

Butter Buns – Normal buttery buns with no filling. (pic courtesy:  http://en.christinesrecipes.com)

Hong Kong Cocktail Buns – Fillings are shredded coconut and butter http://cornercafe.wordpress.com

Buttery Buns – Butter in the centre of the bun and melted when baked. This is also the type of buns commonly found in the famous Malaysian chain store called “Rotiboy” .http://thenewartofbaking.blogspot.sg

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Sarawak Style Butter Buns – Butter fillings. Found in Sarawak only.

   


THE PROCESS OF MAKING SARAWAK STYLE BUTTER BUNS

This illustration will use the Tangzhong method of bread making and it involved 5 stages in the following orders:

Part 1 – Making the Tanzhong (Water Roux) ..– Best to prepare the night before

Part 2 – Preparing the Dough for the 1st Proofing

Part 3 – Preparing the Butter Fillings

Part 4 – Preparing the Dough – Wrapping the Fillings and 2nd Proofing

Part 5 – The Baking Process

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TANZHONG METHOD OF BREAD MAKING

Tangzhong (汤种)is a relatively new method of bread making and the main advantages of it is because bread made using tangzhong were usually soft and fluffy and  able to keep longer. Previously, bread improver were used to make the bread softer for a longer period of time. However, this method have used all natural ingredients without any chemicals  to get the same effect.

According to Cookipedia:

“Tang zhong (also known as a ‘water roux‘) is a method used in bread making to create soft and fluffy bread which was originated by the Japanese. However, it was popularised throughout south-east Asia in the 1990s by a Chinese woman called Yvonne Chen who wrote a book called The 65° Bread Doctor. Using this method also allows bread to stay fresh for longer without needing to use artificial preservatives.

To make the tang zhong, you mix together one part flour with five parts liquid (by weight) to make a smooth paste. This is usually water, but can be milk or a mixture of both. The mixture is then heated in a saucepan until it reaches exactly 65°C (149°F), removed from the hob, covered and left to cool until it is down to room temperature, when it will be ready to use. It would be useful have a digital thermometer with a probe when making this as other types of thermometer tend to be too large. If you are not making your bread immediately, the tang zhong will keep in the fridge for a couple of days, but will need to be brought up to room temperature before use. The tang zhong is added to the main flour with the liquid and mixed in and kneaded as normal.

The amount of tang zhong used should be about 35% of the weight of the main flour. It is best to make a little extra, because the liquid will evaporate slightly during heating. To make a loaf weighing about 1kg, I would suggest using 480g flour, 200g liquid and 170g tang zhong (made with 30g flour and 150g liquid), which will give a hydration of about 68%. You can of course adjust the amount of liquid either side of the 200g, but the tang zhong proportions should not be adjusted. “

(http://www.cookipedia.co.uk/recipes_wiki/Tang_zhong)

You will note that my recipe for Tang zhong (that are detailed below) are different from what is mentioned above. You can either use my recipe or the recipe as mentioned above.

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PROCESS OF MAKING THE SARAWAK STYLE BUTTER BUNS

PART 1 – MAKING THE TANG ZHONG (WATER ROUX) …..

What is required

  • 50g bread flour
  • 50g boiling water (water should be boiling hot, otherwise you have to put it over the stove to cook it)

Steps of preparation

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  • Get ready the bread flour in a mixing bowl. Pour the boiling hot water into the flour, mixed well and shaped into a ball.
  • Let the ball cooled down at room temperature. Once cooled, covered bowl with a cling wrap and keep it in the fridge overnight.
  • This recipe will make about 90 g of tanzhong. If you cannot finish tanzhong, you can put it in a container and keep it in the fridge for future use.

Update:

The picture below is from my second batch whereby I have used the method specified in the Cookipedia above and is append here for your reference.

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What is required

  • 25 g of bread flour
  • 125 g of cold water

Steps of preparation

  • In a metal mixing bowl, mixed the water with the cold water. Stirred until well mixed.
  • Place the flour mixture under medium to low heat until the mixture boils.
  • Continue to stir until it resembles some types of glue or when the mixtures start to dissociate itself from the wall of the bowl. Cool and keep it in the refrigerator for the portion that was not used.

PART 2 – PREPARING THE DOUGH – 1st Proofing

What is required

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  • 180 g of bread flour (you can substitute 5 g of bread flour with milk powder, in that case you need only 175 g of bread flour)
  • 30 g of sugar
  • 4 g of instant dry yeast
  • Pinches of Salt
  • 35 g of beaten egg (the above picture is for illustration. 35 g of eggs is equivalent to about 1 egg)

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  • 55 ml of fresh milk
  • 20 g of butter – soften
  • 45 g of tangzhong, refer to recipe above (about half of the tangzhong made above)

 


Steps of preparation (dough)

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  • Mix all ingredients except softened butter and beat at slow speed for about 5 minutes.
  • Add the softened butter and continue kneading at medium high-speed for about 20-30 minutes or when the dough did not stick to the wall of your mixing bowl and do not break when you pull the dough.
  • In the flat surface dusted with normal or bread flour, take out the dough from the mixing bowl and slightly knead it using hand for 1-2 minutes and shape it into a ball.
  • lightly oil you mixing bowl and place the ball in the bowl. Cover with damp cloth or cling wrap (to prevent moisture loss).

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  • Leave it to proof until almost double in size. This should be about 30-45 minutes depending on the day’s temperature.
  • If you are using a metal mixing bowl which are slightly cold when touched, put it in your oven at temperature of about 30 degree Celsius for about 10 minutes or when your bowl feel warm when touched.

 


PART 3 – PREPARING THE BUTTER FILLINGS

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What is required

  • 150 g of butter
  • 150 g of sugar
  • 180 g of flour

Steps of preparation

  • Melt the butter in the microwavable bowl (1 minute). Alternatively, you can also melt it over the smallest heat directly under the fire.
  • Add the sugar to the hot melted butter, stirred until dissolved.
  • Add in the sifted flour gradually and used a spoon to stir until well mixed.
  • Let the flour mixture cooled down and let it rest for at least 5-10 minutes (note that the flour need sometime to absorb the liquid and don’t worry if it is too watery. After 5 minutes, the flour will also expand and you can see a slight increase in volume.
  • Once cool, shaped it into 10 small balls of about 40 g each. Set aside for later use.

 


PART 4 – PREPARING THE DOUGH – Wrapping the fillings and 2nd Proofing

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  • Take the dough out, punch into the dough to let any trapped air escaped. Knead for one minute and divide into 10 equal size round ball.

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  • Wrap the dough around the butter filling ball as even as possible. Put it in a baking tray and cover with the same damp cloth.
  • Let it proof for another 30 minutes or when balls were almost double in size.

 


PART 5 – THE BAKING PROCESS

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  • Set the oven to temperature 190 degree Celsius.
  • Put  in the oven and bake at 10-15 minutes. After 10 minutes of baking, egg wash (please see below) the buns quickly and continue baking for about 5 minutes or when the top start to turn slightly golden brown. Alternatively, you can egg wash first before you send into the oven. I prefer to egg wash at the latter stage as I can control the colour better.
  • Egg wash – Crack one egg and mixed with 3 teaspoons of water and 2 drops of oil, slightly beat and sift into a small box, use the brush to brush on top of the surface. The purpose is to let the buns looks shinny and golden brown. 

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  • Take out from the oven and transfer to a rack for cooling.

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MODIFICATIONS AND VARIATIONS

  • For the butter fillings, you can add 1-2 tablespoons of milk powder to the flour. Personally, I do not prefer to have milk powder added since it will negate the butter aroma. However, commercially, they do add milk powder to this and in fact, my kids loved the fillings that have milk powder.
  • For the dough, you can add 1 teaspoon of milk powder as well. However, both this modification are not traditional methods of preparation.

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CONCLUSIONS

  • This is a traditional bun that is very popular among the Sarawakians.  The history has yet to be traced. However, this bun is usually prepared by Hainanese “kopitiam” (coffee shops) and most of the good bakers are Hainanese. Hainanese are the descendants of immigrants from the Island of Hainan in People’s Republic of China. It is also a Chinese dialect group and they are very good chefs and pastry chiefs. This is because they arrived South East Asia later than other Chinese dialect groups (like Cantonese, Hokkien, Foochow) and they were employed as chefs in the then British families and well to do local and nonya families. They were trained by the British in baking and when the colonial era ceased, they started to set up coffee shops cater for the Chinese immigrants in from China. The consumption and usage of butter in pastry were mostly influenced by the British administration. Though unconfirmed, however , it appeared to be logical because Chinese traditional cooking did not use its butter in its delicacies.
  • The Sarawak Style butter buns have a nice buttery fragrance and taken a bit resembles taking a teaspoon of butter and sugar in the mouth….It is divine especially eaten with a cup of tea or coffee. It is ideal as a breakfast item or afternoon snacks.
  • The use of tanzhong in this recipe made the bread softer even after a day or two. This newly developed baking method is widely used by bakers in the Asian region and that is one of the reasons that sweet buns and soft buns were popular in Asian region. The texture will definitely different from the traditional method of bread baking.

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Hope you take a move in trying out this new recipe. For my readers who are in other countries and never tasted this bun, just take a bowl, add equal amounts of melted butter, sugar and flours, stirred and put in the microwave for 2 minutes. Have a small scoop of filling and tell me if this is your cup of teas.

Thanks for reading and have a nice day. Cheers. 

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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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A Noodle Dish That Chinese Sarawakian Would Not Be Able To Let Go… Sarawak Kolo Mee

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IMG_8476Kolo Mee prepared using Hong Kong Mee

INTRODUCTION

I remembered I started my long post on the famous Sarawak Laksa with these few words….

Like any other Sarawakians, I am proud of our own version of laksa, Sarawak Laksa. It will not do Sarawak Laksa any justice if I did not do  a detail post on Sarawak Laksa”

The same applies to Kolo Mee, the second most common noodle dish in Sarawak, Malaysia, particularly in its capital city Kuching. As a Sarawakian, it will be unfair to my state of origin if I did not blog about Kolo Mee (or Sarawak Dry Noodles used interchangeably). Kolo Mee, a type of Sarawak dry noodles is deep rooted in the hearts of Chinese especially in the city of Kuching. Sarawakians who are overseas have always  craved for this special noodle and Sarawakian in Sarawak can have this noodle dish as breakfast, lunch, dinner or even supper. There will be at least one store selling Kolo Mee in  any eating outlets. The popularity is just like fishball noodles in Singapore context.

IMG_8484  Kolo Mee Prepared Using You Mian

Though popular and unique in its presentation, however, I am reluctant to say that the noodles originated from the State of Sarawak.  Singaporean foodies who visited Kuching and have the noodles said that it resembles the type of noodles called 车仔面 or Cart noodles which was common in the 1960’s. Some of the images that I have sourced from internet websites do have some resemblances to Sarawak Kolo Mee particularly websites from the area of Xiamen and Chaozhou, People’s Republic of China. In Singapore, there is a type of wanton noodle called Kluang wanton noodles, it is rather similar in taste and noodles textures. The same for the Feifei wanton noodles in Joo Chiat Road, Singapore, the taste are closed but not exactly the same.

IMG_8478Kolo Mee prepared using Hong Kong Mee

The popularity have started to expand to places besides Kuching. In Singapore, there is a rather big restaurant chain called Jiaxiang Sarawak Kolo Mee and some hawker centres selling it. In fact, Singapore’s Channel 8 do have a TV show recently on the SARAWAK KOLO MEE. I understand there are also stores in Kuala Lumpur and Johor Bahru, Malaysia that sell the noodles.

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Besides, in bigger cities where there are a lot of Sarawakian’s residing such as Melbourne, Perth, Toronto, the noodles were being sold in local Sarawakian restaurants. 

IMG_8490 Kolo Mee Prepared Using You Mian

If you stay in Kuching, Sarawak, it is rather unlikely that you will be preparing this noodle dish yourself since it can be easily bought  in any eating outlets. Prices are generally reasonable and not many foodies will want trouble themselves to prepare such noodles. However, in overseas, foodies may have to wait  for the relatives to “pack” them the noodles when they visit them from Kuching or they will have to eat at the restaurant at a rather high price. Is it not good if overseas Sarawakians are able to prepare the noodles themselves ?

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The challenge of preparing this noodle dish is the type of noodles used. The noodles used in Kuching is a type of springy egg noodles without the use of any alkaline water (碱水)。For size and texture, it resembles the type of noodles used in the preparation of wanton noodles in West Malaysia or Singapore. But the taste and colour are different. The colour is lighter and the taste is without the strong flavour of alkaline water. Being in Singapore, I do not have the noodles like those in Sarawak. I have resorted to the use of two types of noodles commonly sold in the Singaporean supermarkets. One is called “Hong Kong Noodles” with eggs and alkali water usually used for the preparation of wanton noodles  and another noodle is called the “You Mian” without eggs and alkali water.

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WHAT IS REQUIRED

All quantities are for reference only as it is very depends on individual likings

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  • 1 packet of Hong Kong Noodles (or You Mian)

  • Some lard (optional)

  • 3-4 shallots, cut in small pieces

  • Some minced pork

  • Some choy shym or other leafy green vegetables

Not in pictures above

  • Some spring onions, cut in small pieces 

  • Some white vinegars or black vinegars

  • Some seasonings of your choice (mushroom concentrate or chicken stock or MSG)

  • Some sugars

  • Some light soya sauces

  • Some dark soya sauces

  • Salt to taste

  • Some cooking oils

  • Some sesame oils

Lard is traditionally used in these cuisines and recently I was shocked to know that most of the stalls in Kuching still uses lard in the preparation of this noodle dish. Depending on individual, you can just use cooking oil or olive oil instead.

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STEPS OF PREPARATION

Preparing the fried shallots and shallots oil

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  • In a frying pan, have 1 cup of cooking oil, heat the oil under medium heat. Add in the chopped shallots and deep fried until the shallots are brownish in colour. Drain and set aside. The shallots shall be crispy when cold. Keep in an airtight container if desired.

  • Use the same oil, add in the chopped spring onions. Stir fried the spring onions until brownish and let it soaked in the oil. When cooled, transfer the shallot oil to a bowl and set aside for later use.


Preparing the minced meats and blanching of vegetables

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  • For 200 grams of minced meat, marinate the mince meats with 1 teaspoon of light soya sauce, 1 teaspoon of dark soya sauce, 1 teaspoon of sesame oil, pinches of white pepper and pinches of salt. Stir well and let it marinate for about 10-20 minutes.

  • In a pot of boiling hot water, put the marinated minced meat in sieve, put the sieve in the boiling hot water and blanched the minced meat for 2 minutes. Take out the blanched minced meat, put in a bowl, add one scope of dark soya soya sauce, one tablespoon of shallot oil, and additional white pepper. Set aside for later use. Keep the meat blanching water for preparing of some vegetable soup to go with the noodles.

  • Use the same hot water to blanched the vegetable for 1-2 minutes, drained and set aside for latter use.

  • For minced meat, if you do not want to use blanching method, another alternative is to stir fry the minced meat with 1-2 tablespoons of shallot oils for about 5 minutes.

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Preparing of noodles

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  • In a hot pot of boiling water, put in one serving of noodles and cook the noodles by following the instructions as in the package, In this illustration, the package required the noodles to be blanched in hot boiling water for 45 seconds only. Transfer the hot noodles to another pot of cold water for 10 seconds.  Drain and put in the serving bowl with all the seasonings (PLEASE REFER BELOW).


Assembling the noodles

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To summarize, the following should be ready before assembling the noodle dish. Fried shallot, white vinegar, black vinegar (optional), light soya sauce, minced meat, Chinese barbecue pork, blanched choy sum (in this picture, I used xiaobaicai), shallot oils and lards.

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  • In a serving bowl, put 2 tablespoons of shallot oils, 1 teaspoon of white vinegar, 1 teaspoon of lard (optional), 1 teaspoon of light soya sauce, pinches of salt, pinches of sugar or seasonings of your choice (such as mushroom concentrate or if you prefer MSG). Mix well and add the blanched noodles (immediately after you blanched and dipped in cold water). Use 2 pairs of chop sticks or any other kitchen utensils to mix the seasonings, shallot oils and noodles as evenly as possible. Put some blanched vegetables, 1 tablespoon of minced meat and some Chinese barbecue pork on top of the noodles. Let it rest for 2-3 minutes before serving.

  • In a small soup bowl, transfer some minced meat broth and put in some blanched vegetables.

  • Best served with hot with soup (optional) and red cut chilli dipped in white vinegar.

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CONCLUSION

This is a rather long post. The taste of this noodles dish is satisfactory as compared to those sell in Kuching Sarawak. The most obvious difference is the noodles used. As I can’t get the authentic noodles from Sarawak, I will have to substitute with the next best alternative so as to satisfy my palate. I will continue to search for better alternatives in Singapore and I may want to “thick skinned” enough to ask the store owners selling Kolo mee in Singapore where is the source of supply of their noodles? Imported… I seriously doubt? Making at home….?

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I was surprised to see my kids having 2 big plates of noodles .. Possibly they are also craving for the noodles. Of course they will not be able to criticize whether or not the noodles that I prepared is authentic or not.

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This is a localized and regional dish.. However, I strongly encourage my readers from Singapore, West Malaysia or other countries to try it. None of my circles of friends who visited Kuching have ever reject the offer as the taste is quite an international taste..To conclude: If you like wanton noodles anywhere in the world, YOU WILL DEFINTELY LIKE IT! DO GIVE IT A TRY! It is not difficult to prepare at all!!

Hope you like the post today and cheers. Have a nice day. 


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

PART III   COOKING THE SARAWAK LAKSA

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

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


WHAT YOU NEED?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


THE COOKING BEGINS…

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

 

Step 1 – Blanching the Chicken Breast

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

Step 2 – Blanching the prawns

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

Step 3 – Making of additional Prawn Stocks

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

Steps 4 – Cooking the Laksa Soup

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

Step 5 – Making the Egg Omelets

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

Step 6 – Blanching The Bean Sprouts and Rice Vermicelli

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

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

    Step 7 – Assembling and Garnishing

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

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    CONCLUSIONS

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

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