I Thought It Was A Chinese Fritter..–Vietnamese Hollow Donut or Hollow Bread (Bánh Tiêu)

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INTRODUCTION

When I first saw the picture in a Vietnam recipe site, I didn’t realize that Chinese do not have this fried fitter. In fact, I thought it was some sort of fritters that was commonly sold together with You Tiao and Butterfly You Tiao (a type of Chinese deep fried dough fritters). However, after I prepared this, I asked my friends about this fritter, apparently most have not been able to give a name. However, they are kind enough to provide me the names of a few Chinese fritters that were very close to the one I have prepared.

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My friends was asking if there was any fillings inside. I said none, it is just hollow. They told me the one with red bean fillings is called Red Bean Fritters (“豆沙油饼“)。Another want is asking if there was any 5 spice powder, I told them no and this I know, the type with 5 spice powder is called Salty Fritters (“咸简饼“)。 At the end, I have decided to give up researching any further and follow the Vietnamese name of Hollow Donuts (Bánh Tiêu).

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Though the name is Vietnamese, however, the taste is exactly like the the other Chinese fried dough fritters as the ingredients are basically the same. I do not have a lot of picture for these fritters as it is our snack and it had been “snatched” away before I have time to take my picture.

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WHAT IS REQUIRED

Recipe adopted from: http://www.vietnamesefood.com.vn

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  • 400 grams of plain flour (or bread flour which I believed will produce better results)

  • 80 grams of sugar

  • 200 ml of water

  • 1 tablespoon of cooking oil or vegetable shortenings

  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder

  • 1 teaspoon of instant yeasts

  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt

  • Adequate sesame seeds for coating

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STEPS OF PREPARATION

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  • Mix the yeast and 1 teaspoon of sugar in the lukewarm water. Set aside for 10 minutes and see if there are some bubbles (froths) formation. If there are no froth formation, it means the yeast is death and you have to change the yeast.

  • In a machine mixing bowl, place plain flour, remaining sugar and baking powder. Slightly stir and make a well in the centre. Add in the yeast solution and use the spoon to slightly stir it.

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  • Use a the machine’s dough hook and use slow speed to mix the the dough for the first 2-3 minutes and continue to use medium speed to beat for 5 minutes. Add in vegetable shortening or cooking oil. Use high speed to beat until the dough is smooth which will take approximately 15 minutes.   (note that you can use hand to knead the dough also if you prefer not to use the machine)

  • Take out and knead it for 1-2 minutes and shape it like a ball and let it proof for at least 45 minutes or when the size doubled.

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  • Take out the proofed dough, punch to let the air escape. Lightly knead for 1-2 minutes and divide into 10-20 equal balls. Coat with sesame seeds and let the balls proof for about 20-30 minutes. (Note that in this illustration, I have opt to make it into 10 balls which is slightly bigger than the one sold in the stalls, therefore, I would suggest to divide it into 15-20 balls).

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  • Heat up about 5 cm high of oil in a frying pan. Take a small piece of dough and drop to the hot oil and see if the dough starts to expand and float. If yes, the oil is ready.

  • Use your hand to flatten the dough to about 0.5 cm thick and put it into the hot oil.  Use a chopstick to flip it continuously and you should start to see the dough puffing up. Continuing doing so until the fritters are golden brown in colour. Place on a rack and let the fritters cool down.

  • Best serve immediately after it is cool.

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Note that the puff may become flat after it cooled. This is common as the dough do not have anything such as eggs to support its structure. Depending on your shaping, you should have a hole in the fried fritters. If your shaping is not perfect or do not have adequate time to proof, they may be no hole but the taste is equally fabulous like the sweet “butterfly fritters” you purchase in the stores.

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CONCLUSION

Vietnam is the neighbouring country of People’s of China. Obviously, Vietnamese cuisines will be influenced by Chinese cuisines and vice versa. This hollow donuts or hollow breads (as some Vietnamese called it) are definitely worth a try. In my humble opinion, it had no difference with the Chinese salted fritters “ham chim peng” except it is sweeter and do not have 5 spice powders. Do try to prepare and let me know if this suits your family’s taste buds.

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Lastly, I have pleased to share with readers the new “RECIPE INDEX” which have more than 150 over cuisines since I started the blog on 30 April 2013. This index have incorporated all the recipes that are either in this blog or in Guaishushu’s Facebook Page. You may want to take a look. It will be constantly upgraded and bookmark it for your future reference. Thanks for your kind support.  Cheers and have a nice day.

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After Red Dragon Fruit Pie Bar, Shall We Have A Red Dragon Fruit Cheese Cake?

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INTRODUCTION

Life as a food blogger has his/her fair share of pressures. He/she will have to design a dish, prepare the dish, decorate the dish and take picture for the blog. A poorly taken picture may ruin all his efforts putting in for the dish he or she prepared.

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All bloggers will have its own strengths and weaknesses and some of my weaknesses are cake cutting, decoration and photographing. I am especially wary of cutting an 9” inch diameter cakes. I am not fully satisfy with the images in this post and I shall improve on it.

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Though I do not really like the colour of red dragon fruit, however, I am amazed by the visual presentation that it can create for cakes and pastry. I have blogged about red dragon fruit pie bars yesterday and have another half a red dragon fruit left. I thought it would be a good idea to use it for some cheese cakes. I looked up my favourite dessert cookbook “The Essential Dessert Cookbook” published by Murdock Books 2007 and found this Raspberry Swirl Cheesecake that I have always wanted to try but do not have the opportunity as it is not a seasonal fruit in Singapore and Malaysia. Prices of raspberry were rather costly and readers may not have a chance to prepare the cake if I blogged about it. So I have decided to use red dragon fruits for the cake.

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WHAT IS REQUIRED

For Biscuit Crust

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  • 150 grams of plain sweet biscuits

  • 50 grams of melted unsalted butter

For Fillings

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  • 500 grams cream cheese (at room temperature)

  • 125 grams caster sugar

  • 80 ml (1/3 cup) lemon juice

  • 315 ml (1 1/4 cups) of creamed (whipped)

  • 250 grams of red dragon fruit (meshed and become puree)

  • <font face="Microsoft PhagsPa"3 tablespoons of gelatine

  • 1/3 cup of water

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STEPS OF PREPARATION

Preparation of biscuit crust

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  • Blend the biscuits in a food processor. Add the melted butter to the biscuit crust and mix well.

  • Have a 9” diameter spring form baking tin, spoon the crushed biscuits and press firmly against the base of the baking tin. Chilled in the refrigerator for at least half an hour or until firm. Lightly grease the sides of the baking tin with butter.

For biscuits, it can be any type of biscuits. In fact I have used some biscuits that have some meringue on top and therefore you can see some coloured meringues in my biscuit crusts.

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Melting the gelatine and preparation of red dragon fruit purees

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  • Have a metal bowl, put in 1/4 cup of water and sprinkled the gelatine on top of the cold water as evenly as possible. Use a tablespoon to lightly stir the gelatine powder solution and ensure all the gelatine absorb the water.

  • Bring a pot of water to boil in a stove. Turn off the heat. Place the metal bowl with gelatine on top of hot water, stir until all the gelatines are dissolved without signs of gelatine powder. Leave the metal bowl floating in the hot water for later use.

  • Put the dragon fruits in the food processor and blend it until it become puree form. Add in half of the gelatine and set aside for later use.

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  • In a standing mixer, whipped the cream until firm peak form and set aside for later use.

  • Using the same mixing bowl, put sugar and softened cream cheese.

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  • Beat until light and smooth. Scrap bottom of the mixing bowl and ensure there are no deposit of cheese at the bottom of mixing bowl.

  • Add in half of the gelatine, lemon juice and whipped cream, use the slowest speed of the mixer to whisk until well mixed as indicated in the fourth images.

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  • Take out the spring form tin from the refrigerator and place some whipped cream cheese on top of the biscuit crust.

  • Place two to three tablespoons of dragon fruit puree on top of the whipped creamed and followed by another level of whipped cream cheese.

  • Perform the same procedures alternating between whipped cream cheese and dragon fruit puree until all was done. Use a knife to lightly swirl through the cheesecake.

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  • Lightly tap or shake your baking tin and you will see patterns start to evolve.

  • Chilled in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours before serving. Top with whipped cream or additional red dragon fruit or other topping as you wished.

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CONCLUSION

Not as difficult as one thinks to make this cake, The visual effect, in my humble opinion is astonishing. While in my red dragon fruit pie bars, the red dragon fruit appeared to be red in colour. However, in this cake, it appeared to be purplish colour which shocked me!

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It is a big cake, a 9” inches diameter cheese cake, I am now thinking how I can finish the whole cake!  Haha. If you are interested on cheese cakes, you may want to check out my other two cheese cakes –  Durian Cheese Cake , Ferraro Rocher Ice Cream Cheese Cake not forgetting the peanut flavour cream cheese ice – cream.

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

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Agar Agar is not the same as Agak Agak… Agar Agar is Red Algae !!

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INTRODUCTION

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

Per Wikipedia:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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NATURAL COLOUR SELECTION

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

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

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

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WHAT IS REQUIRED

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

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

  • Some sugar (refer package)

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

  • Some moulds of your preference

  • Few leaves of Pandanus leaves – bundled (optional)

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STEPS OF PREPARATION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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CONCLUSIONS

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

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

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

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What I cooked today (家常便饭系列)- 13-7-2013–Tomato Yimin Noodles (茄汁伊面)

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On 13 July, 2013. – Tomato noodles

Today’s dinner, i have cooked the a noodle dish which is a fusion dish between the famous Sarawak tomato noodles and Kuala Lumpur Style fried Noodles (Cantonese Yimin).

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The main difference between the two is the gravy and type of noodles.

Sarawak Tomato Noodles Cantonese Seafood Yimin
Type of noodles Fresh fine egg noodles fried in oil usually just before serving Ready made fried egg noodles in a round shape. Noodles are coarser
Gravy Tomato puree or tomato sauce with no egg added Clear gravy with beaten eggs added

Since I have nothing much to comment on what I cooked today, I have decided to have my cooking illustration in this post.

Authentic Sarawak Tomato noodles

In Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia, the tomato noodles are a type of egg noodles, deep fried and soaked in a gravy made from tomato puree and sauce. The gravy is clear and orange in color.

pic courtesy : http://mile.mmu.edu.my

In Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, West Malaysia, there is another type of Cantonese noodles, called Cantonese Yi Min, a ready made deep fried noodles and soaked in a clear whitish egg gravy and cooked with seafood and meat.

pic courtesy: http://wongpenny.files.wordpress.com

The uncooked Cantonese Yimin is like the picture below and I bought it in a Singapore provision shop that sells other types of Chinese dried goods.

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WHAT IS NEEDED?

Most if not all ingredients except the noodles (Yin Min) are substitutable to your liking. Measurements is for reference and for cooking a meal of 2 adults and 2 kids.

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  • 250 grams of shrimps or/and cuttlefish
  • 250 grams of sliced pork/chicken
  • 250 grams of fish cakes cut into slices
  • 200 grams of fresh leafy vegetable such as choy sim

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  • 1 8 inches diameter fried egg noodles (Yimin) usually available in Chinatown especially Cantonese provision shops
  • 100 g of tomato ketchup;
  • 4 eggs – crack and slightly beaten
  • 50  g of corn starch/potato starch
  • 2 tablespoons of white vinegar
  • Seasonings such as salt, flavour enhancers
  • 5 cloves of garlics and shallots – chopped into small pieces
  • Pinches of salt and 1 tablespoon of sugar.

STEPS OF PREPARATION

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  • In a big and dip plate, placed your noodles in the centre.
  • In a small mixing bowl, place tomato paste/puree and corn starch, add half cup of water, stir until well mix and set aside for later use. Your tomato starch solution should be orange creamy in colour. You can also add the seasonings of your choice at this point of time).

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  • In a hot frying pan, put 3 tablespoon of oil, fried the chopped garlics and shallots until golden brown or until aromatic.
  • Add the sliced meat (pork of chicken) and fried for about 1 minutes;
  • Add the sliced fish cake, cuttlefish (if any), chopped vegetable and fried for another 1 minutes;
  • Add 1.5 cups of hot water to the pan and bring to boil under high heat.

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  • Add in tomato starch solution and bring to boil.
  • Add in the prawns, beaten eggs. Pour your beaten eggs slowly into the boiling tomato gravy, use a chopstick of fork to slightly make a circular motion in the gravy such that the egg will be broken into tiny pieces in the gravy.
  • Add in vinegar, sugar, salt and any other seasonings that you like (e.g fish sauce, light soya sauce, mushrooms concentrate, pepper etc.) and bring to boil.
  • Once boiled, slowly scoop out your gravy and pour on top of the noodles. The noodles will gradually soften. You can prepare your gravy first and pour on the noodles only when you want to have your meals.

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  • Let it soak for about 5 minutes before putting it in separate plates for individual servings. This will help the noodles absorbed the gravy making the noodles tastier.
  • Serve hot in individual plate.

 

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CONCLUSION

  • This is the first time I published a cooking illustration in “What I cooked today series”. Cooking illustration that are less complicated will be published in this blog’s sister Facebook Page – Guaishushu’s Page. Please refer to this page for simple cooking illustration for daily meals.
  • This noodle is neither the famous Sarawak tomato noodles nor the famous Cantonese Yimin noodles. It is a fusion of the two. I have used the Cantonese Yimin noodles and soaked in tomato egg sauce. The end product is better than I expected. As the Cantonese Yimin noodles are coarser, they are able to absorb more gravy making the noodles tastier. The texture of the noodles are better and will not break too easily as compared to the Sarawak tomato noodles.
  • As for non-Asian readers, shall I call this Asian Style spaghettis? You will like it as the noodles are soft and smooth with tomato fragrance.

Hope you LIKE the post and let me know after you try out the dish.

Cheers and have a nice day.

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