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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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.

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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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I Love Hainanese Chicken Rice–Hainanese Chicken Rice (海南鸡饭)

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INTRODUCTION

Updated on 20-9-2014 : The post was updated with the chilli sauce recipe. Please scroll down towards the end of chilli sauce recipe.

This is one of my most satisfied posts and it went unnoticed because of the inexperience picture taking and poor formatting when I just started my blogs. I have decided to add in new pictures for this post. The post was originally written for Mother’s day 2013. However, it is equally applicable to any occasion.

IMG_64711 Poached Chicken

IMG_64951 Rice flavoured with chicken broth

IMG_64801 Some green vegetables to go with the rice

IMG_64751 Some soup from the chicken stock

IMG_64881 Condiments required (for chilli sauce, please scroll down towards the end for recipe)

 


 

ORIGINAL POST (11 May 2013)

WHY NOT COOK YOUR MOTHER A MEAL OF CHICKEN RICE THIS COMING MOTHER’S DAY?

 


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Hainanese chicken rice is a dish of Chinese origin, and is most commonly associated with Hainanese, Malaysian and Singaporean cuisines, although it is also commonly sold in Thailand. It is based on the well-known Hainanese dish called Wenchang chicken (文昌雞), due to its roots in Hainan cuisine and its adoption by the Hainanese overseas Chinese population in the Nanyang area (present-day Southeast Asia). Hainanese chicken also appears as a specialty in Vietnamese cuisine. Mother’s day is approaching and it would be a bad idea to prepare some dishes for her and why not consider Chicken Rice. (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hainanese_chicken_rice)

As explained above, chicken rice is a common household dish and hawker’s saleable item. It is welcomed by population of all age groups in Singapore and Malaysia, be it children, teens or adults and all levels from workers to top executives. Singapore is famous for its chicken rice (actually, I am not sure about the reasons behind this since places like Ipoh, Malaysia are also famous for their chicken rice) and is deemed to be a “national dish”. It is also one of the items served by Singapore Airlines for its business class and first class customers.

My kids loved chicken rice and I decided to cook chicken rice yesterday since they have been mentioning it for quite a while. In fact, they are having chicken rice at least one to twice a week at the school canteen.

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IS CHICKEN RICE DIFFICULT TO PREPARE? – Simplified version of chicken rice preparation

Chicken rice is basically “chicken” plus “rice”. If you are not fussy and able to forgo a lot of minute details in the dish preparations, you will score may be a pass in your preparation.

If I am not having meals at home, my mother in law can cook a pot of chicken rice serving the whole family (2 adults and 2 kids; 2 women, 1 girl, 1 boy) with just two drumsticks. This was how she did it. She cleaned the drumsticks; mixed the uncooked rice with a few spoons of chicken rice sauces sold in the supermarket; added a few sticks of pandan leaves; put it in the rice cooker; put the drumstick on top of the rice and on the rice cooker. This is a super quick way to cook, my mother in law was using the steam generated from cooking the rice to cook the chicken and let the juices dripped into the rice. It took her only 20 minutes to cook. There was no complains from her daughters and grand children as the three females family members don’t really like to consume meat. They just want “chicken-rice flavoured white rice”  and they are more than happy to give all the drumsticks to my son. HOW BRILLIANT IS MY MOTHER IN LAW!

However, if you and your family members are food critics, then you may take a while for you to prepare an entire dish until the level acceptable by the foodie. The next question would logically be what differentiates a plate of delicious chicken rice from the “yucky” one.

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WHAT CONSTITUTES A GOOD PLATE OF CHICKEN RICE ?

Usually, chicken rice was assessed based on the following criteria:

RICE  
Fragrance Should emit a nice aroma which basically is a mixture of fragrances from pandan leaves, gingers and garlics
Texture The rice should be soft but still maintain the original grain shape. It should not be soggy (meaning too much water added) and greasy.
Colour Colour should be slightly yellowish that and not plain white. Yellowish colour make the rice looks more presentable and appetizing.
CHICKEN  
Texture Should be soft and juicy. Therefore, simmering/poaching of chicken is one of the critical processes in this dish preparation.
Appearance A bit glazy, skin should not be broken. However, most household will throw away the skin and debone the chicken before serving it.
Fragrance As original as possible
   
CONDIMENTS  
Chilli sauce Beside spicy, chilli sauce must also have the fragrance of sesame oil, ginger, garlic and lime.
Special made soya sauce The soya sauce should be thick and slightly sweet
Ginger sauce Gingers were freshly ground and overall sauce must be tasty enough
   

Before I proceed, I have to caution that my recipe is the healthy version but the outputs resemble those chicken rice sold in hawker centres or posh hotels or restaurants. You got the hint? Smile  If you found my ingredients are not that healthy, just substitute with what you usually use. Of course, not  the chicken and rice!!! I will justify the usage of my ingredients.

 

PREPARATION PROCESS

 Getting Ready….  
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  • One medium sized chicken.  – When you buy the chicken, you have to ensure that you have a pot big enough to submerge the whole chicken. I have used a smaller chicken because I only have 4 persons for the meals.  For your reference, I have paid SGD 4.80 for chicken, therefore, it is rather small. I do not recommend to use frozen chicken as the taste would not be the same.

  • Additional chicken feet for preparation of chicken stock (may be SGD 1 for 10 chicken feet) and keep the chicken fats for frying the garlics and gingers.

  • One cube of ready made chicken stock (optional).

  • Lots of garlics, gingers and bits of fresh turmeric (optional).

 

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  • 2 bundles of pandan leaves. It is definitely recommended if you are in Malaysia and Singapore but if you cannot get it in your countries, you can go without it but use more gingers and garlics instead.

  • Some coriander leaves, tomatoes and cucumbers for garnishing.

  • Light soya sauce, thick dark soya sauce, cooking oil, sesame oil for condiments. If you can’t get the thick dark soya sauce, you can use the normal dark soya sauce and add in some rock sugar

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Preparing the ingredients…. 

 

  • Pound the garlics and gingers as fine as possible. Add in a bit of tumeric if desired. Set aside of future use.Note that I have included a small slices of tumeric for the purpose of colour the rice. Tumeric is a good colouring agent and in fact, it blends quite well with ginger and garlic. You can see from the second picture that the pounded mixture is a big yellowish. But do not add too much until it covers up the fragrance of garlic and ginger.
  • In a bowl, get ready some chicken stock cubes, dissolved in hot water and set aside for later use.This step is optional but I opt to do it because I need not to add a lot of condiments such as light soya sauce, salt etc. to the chicken rice later. Sliced some cucumbers and tomatoes and set aside for later use.
  • Personally, I would think that a plate of chicken rice is incomplete without slices of cucumber in it. The role of cucumbers and tomatoes is to negate the greasiness of the rice and chickens since it is just “chicken plus rice” without any vegetables. Size and shape of cucumber are up to individual and here, I have sliced it into funny shapes for future garnishing. Tomatoes are optional but I love the colour and it blends well with the chicken rice.

 

Preparing the chicken ….

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  • Clean the chickens and pluck off any feathers and hairs found. Chop off the heads and legs. The legs can be used for preparing the chicken stocks. If any chicken fats were found, wash and keep these fats for future use. You may consider to use coarse sea salts to rub on the chicken skin such that you have a smooth polished chicken skin. I did not perform this step as I did not have any coarse salts with me.

  • I have purposely bought some additional legs for the preparation of chicken stock as I found that one chicken is just not adequate to bring out the fragrance of the chicken rice.

  • The garlics and gingers quantities in this picture were for reference only.

 

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  • Get ready a pot of water. Throw some garlics, gingers, pandan leaves and bring to boil on high heat.

  • When the water is boiling , submerge the whole chicken into the water with its back facing up. Add in the chicken bones and feet. You can also consider to stuff the chicken with the garlics, pandan leaves and some spring onions before you poached the chicken.

  • The reason letting the chicken having its back facing up is because chicken breast takes longer time to cook  and positioning chicken this way will ensure that breast are fully cooked.

  • Lower heat and simmer for approximately 30 minutes.

 

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  • After 30 minutes, get ready a big pot of cooked cold water (icy water preferred). Take the chicken out and put it in the cold water. Let it soak in the cold water for about 15 minutes. The most important reason for doing this is to preserve the meat juices in the chicken from drying out and prevent the skin from breaking.

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Cooking the rice….. 

  • Use some type of measuring cups (be it the cooking measuring cups or your rice cooker cups)  and  pour adequate quantities chicken stocks (from simmering/poaching  the chicken earlier) to the rice and ensure that it is just adequate to cover the rice. Add in the pounded ginger garlic paste and turmeric and stir until well mixed.

  • Note: How much liquid (in this case chicken stock) is needed to cook the rice is very much depends on the types of rice you have. Some rice may need more water to cook than the others.

  • On the rice cooker and when cooked, fluff rice gently with chopsticks (while loosening rice and avoid rice burnt at the bottom of the rice cooker. Leave at “keep warm” settings for about 10-15 minutes and a plate of chicken rice is ready.

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Serving your chicken rice… 

  • Get ready a bowl, add some light soya sauce, sesame oils, and a bit of leftover chicken stocks and mix well, set aside.

  • Cut your chicken into parts, arrange on platter over a bed of sliced tomatoes and cucumbers.

  • Pour sesame soya sauce oil over the chicken and garnish with coriander leaves. In this picture, I have deboned the chicken and the whole plate of chicken are boneless

  • In separate condiments bowls, serve chilli sauce, ginger sauce and thick soya sauce as dips.

  • Serve with warm rice and some chicken soups. There should be some chicken stocks left after you used it to cook the rice. I just throw in some tomatoes, chye shim, and tofu to make some soups for my kids to eat along with the rice.

 

Here is the chicken rice and does it look appealing to you? Overall, I think I spent less than SGD 10 for the entire dish for a meal of 4. This price is not adequate for you to have a plate of chicken rice at a posh restaurants outlet. At a local food court, if we order one whole chicken plus four plates of rice, one plate of vegetables, plain chicken soup, you will need at least SGD 20 to have that.  We can’t really finished the meals and we still have half a pot of rice left and about one third of chicken left.

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The “aftermaths”…..….CHICKEN PORRIDGE

I used the left over chicken “stock” from submerging the poached chicken in the ice water, throw the chicken rice, the meat into the water and boil for about 15 minutes. Add condiments and garnished with fried onion, coriander leaves and chopped onion and a bowl of chicken porridge is ready for breakfast.

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WHY NOT COOK SOME CHICKEN RICE FOR YOUR MOTHER THIS MOTHER DAY? IF YOU CANNOT COOKED FOR HER, WHY NOT FORWARD THIS POST TO HER AND SAY.

“ MUMMY, HAPPY MOTHERS DAY,

Mom, You’ve cooked for me with love all this while and how I wish I could prepare this dish for you this Sunday to assure you that your kid have grown up and able to take care of themselves.  However, since I am not free to cook this Sunday,  why not we  have the most famous Chicken Rice  in Singapore  at the famous Mandar…. Hotel  in Orchard Road instead? Mom, I love you….. “  Just joking!!!

HAPPY MOTHERS DAY TO ALL MOTHERS;

HAPPY MOTHERS DAY TO MY  WIFE – MY KID’S MOTHER ; AND

HAPPY MOTHERS DAY TO MY WIFE’S MOTHER – MY MOTHER IN LAW………

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UPDATED POST ON 20-9-2014

The post was updated with incorporation of some new pictures and preparation of chicken rice chilli recipe. This chicken rice recipe is the one we usually prepared at home and if this is served, no separate ginger sauce will be prepared. All quantities are estimated quantities for reference only. Feel free to change to your liking.

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Ingredients

  • 100 grams of ginger
  • 100 grams of garlics
  • 5 calamansi
  • 50 grams of chilli.

Steps of preparation

  • Squeeze the juice of the calamansi and keep the calamansi skin.
  • In a food processor, blend the gingers and garlics until fine. Add calamansi skin and chilli, blend until as fine as possible.

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  • Transfer the blended mixture to a glass bottle. Add the calamansi juices, some white vinegar, salt, sesame oil, sugar, light soya sauce and chicken stock. Stir until well mix. Since this is a savoury sauce, feel free to adjust the quantities to your liking. Add more vinegar or calamansi juices when served in a small bowl.

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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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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:

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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 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.

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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 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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Curried “Buttered” Meat Slices With Salted Eggs..

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INTRODUCTION

I have this meat dish as a side dish for yesterday’s dinner. It is a rather regional dish, cooking using the traditional Chinese cooking ingredient, salted eggs and the common Malaysian cooking ingredient, curry leaves (Murraya koenigii). In addition, to enhance the fragrance I have used clarified butter, ghee in the cooking. The dish is a nice curry butter flavoured meat slices which is a rather sinful indulgence in savoury dish.

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International readers, you are always on my mind, every times when I issued a post, I will think of alternatives for you to try cooking the dish considering the fact that you may not have the localized ingredients there. The taste of course will not be compromised much.

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It is very common that this special combination of salted egg, butter and curry leaves is used for the cooking of seafood especially cooking of prawns. It is a relatively new dish and I can’t recall I have ever eaten when I was young. I understand that it started as a restaurant dish and is now commonly prepared by Singapore and Malaysian house chefs.

For this post, I think the following ingredients worth special explanations.

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Curry tree is a common plant in Singapore and Malaysia. It’s leaves had a pungent smell and used in a wide varieties of cuisines especially in the cooking of curry dishes and seafood dishes that have a strong fishy smell. The smell will become more obvious after the leaves were deep fried.

“The curry tree (Murraya koenigii) is a tropical to sub-tropical tree in the family Rutaceae, which is native to India and Sri Lanka. Its leaves are used in many dishes in India and neighbouring countries. Often used in curries, the leaves generally called by the name “curry leaves”, though they are also translated as “sweet neem leaves” in most Indian languages (as opposed to ordinary neem leaves which are bitter)”. (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Curry_tree)

Ghee is a type of clarified butter that have a higher fat content and is commonly used in the India Sub Continent’s cuisines both in bakery or normal cooking purposes. When used in the preparation of Indian Short Bread cookies (Nan Khatai), it really creates a melt in the mouth feeling whereby the cookies is crispy and crumbly in texture. You may want to read more about Ghee and my post Nan Khatai HERE.

Salted duck egg is a very common Chinese household cooking ingredient. It is used in pastry such as moon cakes as well as a variety of Chinese cuisines. It is salty and can also be eaten on its own with porridges. It had a special fragrance when cooked.

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“A salted duck egg is a Chinese preserved food product made by soaking duck eggs in brine, or packing each egg in damp, salted charcoal. In Asian supermarkets, these eggs are sometimes sold covered in a thick layer of salted charcoal paste. The eggs may also be sold with the salted paste removed, wrapped in plastic, and vacuum packed. From the salt curing process, the salted duck eggs have a briny aroma, a very liquid egg white and a firm-textured, round yolk that is bright orange-red in colour.” (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salted_duck_egg)

IMG_8934 This dish with some super quick one pot rice dish


WHAT IS REQUIRED

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  • 500 grams of sliced pork (alternative: chicken drumstick meats, prawns)

  • 1 salted egg (optional or use chicken egg)

  • 2 tablespoons of corn flour

  • Some curry leaves (about 30-40 leaves) (Substitute: bay leaves)

Not in picture

  • 1 tablespoon of ghee (alternatives: Butter or normal cooking oil)

  • 1 tablespoon of chopped garlics

  • Adequate cooking oil for oil blanching of sliced pork

  • Pinches of sugar

  • Pinches of salt (only if salted eggs are not used)

  • Pinches of white pepper powder

  • Additional corn starch for thickening (optional)

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STEPS OF PREPARATION

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  • Clean your meat slices. Add egg white (from the salted duck eggs whites or chicken eggs whites), corn flour, half of the curry leaves and marinate for about 1 hour in the fridge.

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  • Have some cooking oil, bring to high heat and oil blanching the meat slices for 2-3 minutes. Drain and set aside for next step. Depending on the thickness of the meat, you may have to blanch for a slightly shorter or longer time (plus or minus 1 minute). It is ok if the meat inside is not fully cooked as the next step will continue cooking the meat.

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  • Meshed the salted duck egg and get ready the other half of curry leaves and the chopped garlics.

  • In a shallow frying pan, add the ghee and stir fry the chopped garlics until fragrant. Add in curry leaves and meshed salted duck eggs, stir fry until the aroma of curry leaves start to emit and the salted eggs have start to turn slight brownish,

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  • Add in the blanched meat slices, white pepper, pinches of sugar and stir fry for about 2 minutes until well mixed. (Do not add any more salt as salted egg is rather salty)

  • Add 1 tablespoon of corn starch with 2-3 tablespoons of water to make a corn starch solution and pour gradually into the frying pan. Stir fry for 2-3 minutes until well mixed. If it is too sticky or you prefer to have more sauces, add some more hot water. The thickening of the sauce is OPTIONAL.

  • Best served hot as a side dish in a Chinese meals.

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CONCLUSION

The dish is full of flexibility in terms of its ingredients. You can cook in the same manner for prawns, fish fillets or chicken strips. If you do not want oil blanching, you can just stir fry it by passing the step but cooking time have to be slightly longer. Salted egg is optional and you can either using a chicken egg or totally not using eggs. In this case, you have to add pinches of salt or bit of light soya sauce. No curry leaves, feel free to use bay leaves.  The colour of the dishes will very much depend on the salted egg that is used. It can be a beautiful orange colour dish.

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Personally, I would think that the dish is tasty and presentable. Hope that you can try preparing the dish for your family members or guests.  Hope you like the post today. 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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Another Uniquely Chinese Cuisine–Chinese Style Barbecue Pork–Char Siu (蜜汁叉烧)

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FOR AN UPDATED POST 21-SEPTEMBER 2014, PLEASE SCROLL DOWN TOWARDS THE END OF THE POST

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INTRODUCTION

This post is concerning about CHAR SIU – CHINESE STYLE BARBECUE PORK (叉烧).

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Before I start my post, as usual, for the benefits of my international readers, I shall take the liberty to let Wikipedia to have a brief and concise description of this particular Chinese barbecue meat:

“Char siu (Chinese: 叉燒 caa1 siu1literally “fork-roast”; also Romanised chasu, cha siu, cha shao, char siew) is a popular way to flavor and prepare barbecued pork in Cantonese cuisine. It is classified as a type of siu mei (燒味), Cantonese roasted meat. It is listed at number 28 on the “world’s 50 most delicious foods” readers’ poll compiled by CNN Go in 2011.”

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POPULARITY OF CHAR SIU OR CHINESE BARBECUE PORKS

I doubt if there is any Chinese worldwide who have never tasted barbecue pork or Char Siu. I have eaten this as long as I can remember. Whenever I went, I saw Char Siu being sold in local Chinese restaurants. When I was in Douala Cameroon, Africa, I can remember clearly that the Chinese restaurant in Douala is selling wonton noodles with Char Siu. Even when I travelled to Siberian cities like Irkutsk, Krasnoyarsk, Khabarovsk, Char Siu is also one of the must have items in  their Chinese restaurants. Most Char Siu overseas is the Cantonese version, which is sweet and slightly glossy. This type of Chinese barbecue pork had gain popularity and acceptance because of its sweet taste, nice fragrance and tender meat. Char Siu is quite an international taste and can generally suit international foodies’ taste buds since it resembles honey roasted pork.

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WHY THIS DISH

It is another dish that I have prepared out of my cooking passion and own challenge. I have chosen the more commonly accepted Cantonese style of barbecue pork. There are many, many, many recipes in the internet both in English and Chinese languages. Of course I am not capable to read every one of them, and this recipe is the first and only recipe that I read. 

I “digest” this blogger’s article (in Chinese) with great interest as she is very detailed in her approach. Though I have materially modified her recipe, I still want my readers who understand Chinese to read her article and credits have to go Jennifer, a Taiwanese whom in 2011 lives in San Diego. In her post 自己做….廣式蜜汁叉燒肉, she had a detail analysis in how she combined several recipes to come out with her own recipes. It is a rather long post but please take sometimes to read her post. From her post, I come out with my own recipe and modified my approach along the way.

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RED YEAST RICE WINE AND RED FERMENTED BEAN CURDS

I think that the following 2 natural colouring agents deserves special mention in the post. One is red yeast rice wine (红糟酒)and the other red fermented bean curd (红腐乳)。Red yeast rice (红曲米)is also called koji in Japanese and is a bright reddish purple fermented rice, which acquires its colour from being cultivated with the mold Monascus purpureus. (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_yeast_rice).  Red yeast rice wine is the glutinous rice wine made using red yeast rice. You can easily obtain red yeast rice in Chinese medical shops and as for red yeast rice wine, I got some from my neighbour. However, if you can’t obtain red yeast rice wine, you can substitute with normal Chinese cooking wine and red yeast rice residue (红糟)from the making of the wine. The red rice residue can be easily obtained from the supermarket under condiments sections. For more understanding on red yeast rice, please refer to HERE.

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Red fermented bean curd is a type of Chinese fermented bean curds and coloured using red yeast rice above. It is used in a number of Chinese cuisines or it can be eaten with porridge. It is salty and can be easily bought in Chinese provision shops or supermarkets.

However, both these ingredients are  optional. If you do not want your barbecue pork to have reddish colour, you can just straight away substitute the red yeast rice wine with normal Chinese cooking wine and the red fermented bean curd with cream coloured fermented bean curd.

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WHAT IS REQUIRED

Recipe adapted from: 自己做….廣式蜜汁叉燒肉

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Ingredients A (at day of marinating)

  • 1 kg of pork (not in picture) -cut into 5 cm x 15 cm x 3 cm (note below)

  • 2 tablespoons of chopped garlic

  • 2 tablespoons of honey

  • 2 tablespoons of oyster sauce

  • 1 tablespoon of dark soya sauce

  • 5 tablespoons of red yeast rice wine or cooking wine

  • 3 tablespoons of white sugar

  • 10 tablespoons of plain water

  • 1 teaspoon of 5 spice powder

  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt

  • 1 cube of red fermented bean curd plus some fermented bean curd sauce (optional)

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Ingredients B (at day of roasting)

  • 1 tablespoon of honey

  • 5 tablespoons of sugar

  • 5 tablespoons of water

  • 1 tablespoon of dark soya sauce

  • 2 tablespoons of red fermented bean curd sauces

Others

  • Some iron wires to hang the meat or some big size paperclip

Note: For the meat, you can ask the butcher to cut for you and even ask them to recommend the best type of meat for the preparation of barbecue pork. They will be able to offer good advises.

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STEPS OF PREPARATION

Marinating the Meat

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  • Pour all Ingredients A into a big plastic box. Stir well and ensure that all the pork were coated with the sauce. Marinate for at least 1-3 days in the refrigerator. For this illustration, I have marinated for about 2 days.


Preparing for Grilling

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  • Arrange the wire rack of the oven to sit at the highest level of the oven possible. Put a big piece of aluminium foil on top of the baking tray and put it at the lowest level of the oven. Preheat the oven to 180 degree Celsius.

  • Wash the wire with clean water and pierce the wire into the marinated meat and making it into a S hooked shape.


The Grilling Starts

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  • Mix all Ingredients B together and set aside.

  • BE CAREFUL NOT THE TOUCH THE OVEN RACK AS IT IS HOT. Hang your meat in the oven rack and grilled for 15 minutes. You may have some marinating sauces left in the plastic box, add it to Ingredients B above. In the grilling, you will witness the meat juices and some marinating sauces start to drip down to the aluminium foil. If you want, you can scoop out the meat juices or sauces and put it together with ingredients B. If you note that some of meat juices or sauces in the aluminium foil start to get burnt, add some water to the aluminium foil.

  • After 15 minutes, open the oven door and take out the meat and it is okay if the colour of the meat is very faint. Coat the meat thoroughly  with Ingredient B sauces. Hang it back in the oven rack (BE CAREFUL!). Do the same for all the meat strips.

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  • Grilled for another 5 minutes and repeat the same at the interval of 5 minutes until all the sauces are used. I have repeated 3-4 cycles and you will gradually see the meat glossier and glossier. For the last cycle, let it grilled for 10 minutes before taking the barbecue pork out of the oven.

  • After you take out the meat, you may have a lot of sauces of meat juices in the aluminium foil. Slight shape the aluminium foil to reduce the surface area and continue grilling until the barbecue sauce thickens. Once you see lots of bubbles in the aluminium foil, it means that sugar has started to caramelize and barbecue sauce is almost done.  Once done, take it out and pour on the serving bowl for later dipping. It took me about 2-3 minutes to thicken the meat juices and sauces.

  • Cut into slices and can be served with wanton noodles, white rice, porridges or as a meat dish on its own.

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CONCLUSION

Making this is not really difficult but slightly laborious. Via this exercise, I found that the final part of re-coating with the sauces is the most important. After 15 minutes, the meat is almost cooked. The final exercise is to “cosmetically decorated” the meat before serving. Via this way of preparation, your barbecue pork with be glossy and juicy.

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Depending on your preference, the type of meat is of prime importance. I have to admit that I do not really know which part of meat I have bought. I am telling the butcher that I want to make barbecue pork and he gave me these meats. “Post mortem” showed that it was slightly lean and not as juicy as in the restaurant. Obviously, it was due to the wrong type of meats used. Therefore, butchers right recommendation is very important.

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I have to say that the taste of the meat is much better than what I have expected. Forgive me if I am not humble enough to say that it was like what I usually purchased in the stores.  Though there are many sauces and seasonings used, however, I am of the opinion that the most important ingredients are garlic, red fermented bean curd sauces, dark soya sauce and most important of all sugar or honey. Meat has its own flavour and even if your marinating is not long enough, you can still make good the taste at the last 15 minutes of grilling.

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

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PicMonkey Collage1

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UPDATED POST ON 21-9-2014


I have prepared some barbecue pork today. Since I cannot get hold of the red glutinous rice wine and do not have red fermented bean curd with me, I have substitute with red yeast rice powder. Red yeast rice powder (红曲粉) can be easily obtained in Singapore bakeries. Just sharing some photo for this batch of Char Siu. Plan to use these char siu to prepared some barbecue buns etc..

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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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