Sunday 31 January 2016

Stir-Fried Cuttlefish with Yam Beans/Jiu Hu Char 鱿鱼炒

I am not a Hokkien. I never know what jiu hu means until recently. So, for those who, like me, are pretty clueless, jiu hu basically means cuttlefish. And char is pretty explanatory since it is the same char as your char kuey teow (fried flat rice noodle).

Today it is all about stir-fried cuttlefish with yam beans (jicama in US), also known as jiu hu char, a dish common in the north peninsula Malaysia. Jiu hu char is commonly served during major Chinese festivals especially during Chinese New Year. This peranakan or Nyonya dish is surprisingly mild with the absence of the usual heavy use of herbs and spices synonymous with a peranakan dish. However, this simple dish is by no means bland. It draws flavour from the cuttlefish and pork belly adding the necessary depth and aroma to the dish.

Thursday 28 January 2016

Mini Sambal Prawn Roll 虾米卷

Mini Sambal Prawn Roll (or Shrimp Roll) is not difficult to make, just tiring.

This dish needs no introduction since it is a very popular Chinese New Year snack. It is crispy, spicy and pungent, typical of a Malaysian delicacy. The process is pretty easy but time-consuming. The skill here is to get it looking neat and pretty since the rolls are pretty dainty. Believe me, after a few dozens your hands would automatically protest.

As for the filling, the recipe I used was borrowed from my Sambal Udang Kering recipe. Only this time, I made it more dry and finer by reducing the water, oil and blending the dried shrimp finely. If you find it too tedious, you might want to consider getting a jar of the dried shrimp floss from your favourite joint. Exorbitant price as usual, but it saves you the hassle.

Monday 25 January 2016

Chinese New Year Food: Mini Peanut Puffs/Kok Zai 油角仔

You could call this kok zai (角仔), yau kok (油角), or yau kok zai (油角仔). It all refers to the same thing, that is, a crunchy mini puff filled with sugar and crushed peanuts. This mini peanut puff is a popular Cantonese Chinese New Year snack. Like most CNY snacks, it has an auspicious representation. The crescent look represents the olden days money bag (nowadays wallet) and its puffiness indicates that your money bag is well filled. How great is that? In the olden days, the ladies in the family would sit together to make these mini peanut puffs (and other snacks) while giving them a perfect opportunity to catch up with one another.

Thursday 21 January 2016

Salted Egg Yolk Cookie with Curry Leaves 咖喱叶蛋黄酥饼

Nope. You wouldn't find curry taste in your cookies. But this is one darn good recipe.

Salted Egg Yolk Cookie seems to be the craze now. I am intrigued to say the least. Curiosity prompted me to try this phenomenon of mixing savoury with sweet. Well, I wouldn't be surprised at all with the outcome since the liu sha bao (Salted Egg Yolk Custard Bun) uses similar ingredients and has been a hit for the longest time.

There are many recipes for this salted egg yolk cookie available, each having their own uniqueness. I couldn't decide on which one to use. I did not want cookies that have too much milk powder taste. Neither do I want shortening, which is basically tasteless, in my cookies. In my opinion, salted egg yolk's perfect partner would be butter, just like in the liu sha bao. Therefore, I adapted from my own liu sha bao custard filling recipe. I saw from somewhere that adding curry leaves would add to the taste and I was all the more intrigued. So I divided my little batch of trial cookie and made one with curry leaves and the other without for comparison.

Monday 18 January 2016

Almond and Seeds Crisps/Brittle

I have just finished baking my pineapple tarts and that left me with lots of egg whites. What should I do with it? There were a couple options but this Almond and Seeds Crisp seems to be the best pairing. Amongst all the wonderful yummy Chinese New Year Chinese snacks, this is the lesser evil. It is made of almond flakes, sunflower seeds and sesame seeds, all heavily loaded with vitamins and minerals. It is baked and not fried. And if that is not enough to convince you, it is awfully scrumptious in its mildly sweetened, aromatic and super crunchy combination. This is one snack that I am happy to be addicted to. And boy, was I addicted! I prided myself in having great self-restraint but when it comes to this snack, all reservations seem to go down the drain. I nibbled, and nibbled and nibbled...still nibbling as we speak.

Wednesday 13 January 2016

Chinese New Year Cookie: Cheese Pineapple Tart 芝士黄梨酥

If I say pineapple tart is the best cookie in the world, who would agree with me? I am not trying to spark a controversy here but it really is that good. If you are still not convinced, ask any Malaysian about pineapple tarts (by the way, it doesn't resemble your normal tarts) and you will see that twinkle in their eyes while describing vehemently the deliciousness of this tangy melt-in-your-mouth piece of pastry. It is almost a national pride.

Pineapple tart is a local Chinese New Year cookie. This tart is quite popular in in the Southeast-Asia region and Indonesia, each having its own localised version. The buttery and crumbly pastry is paired with a tangy pineapple jam, a perfect match. Pineapple is called ong lai in Hokkien and this also has the same meaning as wealth arrive. Therefore, it is no surprise that this tart is a very popular item during Chinese New Year.

Friday 8 January 2016

Almond Cookie Stick 杏仁饼干条

Chinese New Year is just one month away and I belief many of you must have already gotten yourselves busy. To kick start the Chinese New Year baking frenzy, I am introducing something slightly different this time. When you have so many similar recipes like pineapple tarts, love letters, and kuih loyang, you just have the urge to do something different that makes you stand out. I got this almond cookie stick idea from Awayofmind blog and marries this with the almond biscotti concept. The result is an elongated cookie instead of the usual round but without the need to double bake the cookie like an almond biscotti.

Monday 4 January 2016

Braised Peanuts 卤花生

I have dinner gatherings in Chinese restaurants pretty often. Often, these restaurants would serve a meager plate of braised peanuts as a snack before dinner is served. And often, it gets polished off in no time. Maybe it is the hunger before dinner, maybe it is just plain delicious, but it seemed braised peanuts are one very well received snack.

Friday 1 January 2016

Crispy Roasted Pork Belly (Siu Yuk) 脆皮烧肉

UPDATE 26/7/2018: 

This post was written in early 2016. Two years down the road, I think I have learned much. I am not going to be long winded, just adding a few tips on how to get that brittleness to make a perfect crispy yet tender roasted pork belly.

1. Keep the skin as dry as possible - the longer you keep it in the fridge, the easier to get that brittleness. I have tried 3 days.

2. Scrape the skin, apply some vinegar and continue - that would thin out the skin a little and ensure the lower layer is able to crisp up as well. This will leave no chewiness on the skin.

3. It is ok to have charring on the skin - don't get intimidated when you see burned skin. Scrape it off and continue.

4. Put it as near to the heating element as possible. Level the pork so that the roasting can be equal on all the skin. Shift the unroasted side of the skin direct to the heating element until all the skin are equally roasted.

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