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

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INTRODUCTION

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

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

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

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CHEESEY CASSAVA CAKE

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

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

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

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

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WHAT IS REQUIRED

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

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

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STEPS OF PREPARATION

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hope you LIKE it and have a nice day. Cheers

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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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Macao and the Nobly, Elegant Lotus

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

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

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

Species Information

Scientific name:

Nelumbo nucifera Gaertn

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

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

  Pic courtesy of www.micefinder.com

Macau and lotus

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

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

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

                   

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

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

 

Thank for reading.